I’m honored to have joined in the search for Leiby, along with thousands of others, in what turned out to be a demonstration of achuds unlike anything I had ever experienced. Before I headed home very late on Tuesday night, I felt compelled to drive by the Shomrim command center in Flatbush — simply to behold the sight of hundreds of people waiting on line to join the search. The volunteers ignored the fatigue of the long, hot and exhausting day which had preceded it, and joined arms with Klal Yisroel in its moment of need. Textbook Ahavas Chinom.
I am not ready to return to normal yet, so in this forum, which is normally dedicated to sharing marketing, fundraising and parnassah ideas with the tzibbur, I would like to take a step back and share my thoughts about how the chareidi press excelled in its coverage of this traumatic event and why the accolades that we received is important going forward.
Credit is due across the board, first and foremost to Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz, publisher of the esteemed Yated Neeman. His divrei chizuk, coming straight from his big heart, along with the compelling words from Rabbi Yechiel Spero, Rabbi Yitzy Hisiger, Yaakov Gold, among others, who covered this calamity in such a delicate way and with such depth of hashkafah, makes me feel so honored to share space in the same publication as such men of distinction.
Secular and even non-Jewish writers found words of praise for our chareidi media for filtering the news in a dignified manner, and for providing our readers with the tools they needed to deal with the post-trauma aftermath.
The interest the press showed in our community as a result of this tragedy is not a blip on the charts. It is an element in a long-term trend. Part of this is demographic in nature. Our growing numbers have made us into a coveted target market for businesses and advertisers. More than 10,000 US plants manufacture kosher food and the average supermarket stocks 17,000 kosher products on its shelves.
While we would expect the business community to be swift in taking advantage of growing trends, we are also being increasingly scrutinized by a curious, but probing media that finds our way of life quaint. We do not need to curry their favor, nor do we need to seek faint praise, but in this era of unprecedented access to media, we cannot hide our heads in the sand when the media trains its eyes on us, as it recently did, with the magnification power of an electron microscope. Matti Friedman of the Associated Press’s Jerusalem Bureau recently initiated a story on the chareidi media entitled: Reporters Change an Insular Jewish World. It was picked up by 24,300 news outlets worldwide, according to Google.
We are being watched, and watched closely. When we lead by example, as we did in our recent coverage of this devastating loss, our efforts are recognized. We are truly fortunate to have our own media that not only contains divrei Torah, Halacha columns, hadracha in Chinuch habonim and banos, etc.; and also packages the news, current affairs, the economy and even advertising and marketing in a format that adheres to a Torah perspective.
May we merit to appreciate the good in our community and may the media have countless future opportunities to report about that goodness.
Yitzchok Saftlas is the CEO of Bottom Line Marketing Group.
Readers are encouraged to submit their marketing questions to: ys@BottomLineMG.com