The Jewish Chronicle published its first issue 60 years ago, but its roots go back more than 125 years to its predecessor papers, The Jewish Criterion, founded in 1895, and The American Jewish Outlook, founded in 1934. The Jewish Chronicle was created in 1962 when the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh purchased those two papers and created one consolidated source for community news. In July 2017, the newspaper changed its name to the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, emphasizing its local focus.
In six decades, the Chronicle has seen a lot of changes. It has had five managers or CEOs at its helm: Albert Golomb (1962-1967); Albert Zecher (1967-1993); Barbara Befferman (1993-2011); David Caoin (2011-2012); and Jim Busis (2012-present). The paper has had six editors and has been housed in four different locations.
But through the years, the mission of the Chronicle has remained the same: to be an indispensable source of news while helping to build and strengthen the Jewish community of southwestern Pennsylvania.
Here’s a look back.
Feb. 8, 1895 Jewish Criterion publishes first issue
Dec. 14, 1934 The American Jewish Outlook publishes first issue
Jan. 1962 The United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh (now the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh) announces its purchase of The Jewish Criterion and The American Jewish Outlook, and that in their place a new nonprofit, the Pittsburgh Jewish Publication and Education Foundation, would publish a single paper.
March 8, 1962 The Jewish Chronicle publishes first issue
1962-1968 The Chronicle is housed in the Forbes Building, 120 Atwood Street
1962-1983 Albert “Al” Bloom serves as founding editor
June 25, 1962 Chronicle adopts policy of printing “mixed marriage announcements, “ but with the caveat that they must not include any reference to non-Jewish clergy or a church
Sept. 10, 1965 Howard Fineman is hired as Chronicle Teen Reporter. Fineman, an award-winning writer, went on to become the global editorial director of the AOL Huffington Post Media Group and was Newsweek’s chief political correspondent, senior editor and deputy Washington bureau chief.
Jan. 1, 1968 Board declares that the Chronicle is not “a house organ” of the Federation and that it will “not avoid reporting on controversy.”
1968-1985 Chronicle is housed in the YMWHA Buiding, 315 S. Bellefield Ave.
Oct. 15, 1970 Board decides the Chronicle will never be allowed “to cause disunity in the community.”
June 24, 1971 Chronicle leadership decides “cigarette ads are OK.”
March 15, 1973 Sally Kalson publishes her first article, a review of “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit.” Kaslon became a popular columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
1975-1980 Chronicle publishes its Sight Saver edition. The four-page, large-print edition summarized the news and provided information about services for senior citizens. It was the first edition of its kind to be published by an American Jewish newspaper and won a Smolar Award for Excellence in American Jewish Journalism.
1984-2001 Joel Roteman’s tenure as executive editor
1985-2011 Chronicle is housed in its own building at 5600 Baum Blvd., which it purchased for $307,500. It sells the property in 2011 and moves to a smaller, rented space in Congregation Beth Shalom’s building.
1987 Indiana Printing and Publishing begins to print the Chronicle. It continues to print the paper.
May 1, 1989 Chronicle leadership decides to accept an ad from Bet Tikvah, a “congregation serving the gay community.”
Feb. 2, 1995 Ads for rabbi performing interfaith marriages are rejected.
Oct. 1998 The Chronicle’s first website, Jewish Chronicle-Pgh.com is launched.
April 20, 2000 “We Are Family,” a 40-page collection of the stories of Pittsburgh’s Jewish families, is published by the Chronicle.
2001-2014 Lee Chottiner’s tenure as executive editor
Oct. 2001 Chronicle website PittChron.com is launched.
April 18, 2007 Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project is launched. A collaboration of Carnegie Mellon University Libraries, the Rodef Shalom Congregation Archives, the Rauh Jewish Archives at the Senator John Heinz History Center and the Chronicle, the free website contains more than 9,000 digitized and searchable back issues from four local English-language Jewish newspapers: the Jewish Criterion, The American Jewish Outlook, the Jewish Chronicle and the YM&WHA Weekly.
2010-2012 J… Jewish Pittsburgh Living Magazine, a magazine focused on Jewish culture, is published by the Chronicle four times a year.
2010 The Chronicle becomes a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.
2014 The Chronicle contracts with Mid-Atlantic Media to provide production, administration and editing services. Mid-Atlantic Media, based in Baltimore, also publishes the Washington Jewish Week, the Baltimore Jewish Times and Philadelphia’s Jewish Exponent.
2014-2019 Joshua Runyan’s tenure as editor in chief
July 2017 The Jewish Chronicle relaunches with its new name, the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, to emphasize its core commitment to the local Jewish community. It ceases to charge community members for subscriptions and remains free online. Its new website, pittsburghjewishchronicle.org, which is hosted by The Times of Israel, is launched.
2019-2020 Liz Spikol’s tenure as acting editor-in-chief
Jan. 2020 The Chronicle is a founding member of The Pittsburgh Media Partnership, a collaborative of news organizations from in and around Pittsburgh, with the goal of supporting and maintaining a vibrant local media landscape.
March 1, 2020 Toby Tabachnick begins tenure as editor
March 12, 2020 Gov. Tom Wolf urges nonessential businesses to close due to COVID concerns. Chronicle staff begins working remotely.
Feb. 2021 The Chronicle is selected to participate in the inaugural Jewish Journalism Fellowship, a yearlong program designed to help local Jewish news outlets thrive in the 21st-century media landscape, supported by the Maimonides Fund. PJC
— Compiled with the help of Eric Lidji, director of the Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center.