AJT: Harmony Amid the Chaos

AJT: Harmony Amid the Chaos

From the Editor

By Michael Jacobs

Michael Jacobs

The first time I edited the Atlanta Jewish Times, I started Aug. 29, 2005, the day Hurricane Katrina devastated my hometown of New Orleans. It wasn’t an easy start personally (we lost contact with my grandmother for almost a week) or professionally (I learned on the fly the many ties between the Jewish communities of Atlanta and New Orleans).

When new AJT owner Michael Morris offered me a second chance at the job that brought me to Atlanta, I figured our first issue would be easier than in 2005. We would focus on the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, for which tickets are now on sale, and ease into our community coverage.

French Muslim terrorists Said and Cherif Kouachi and Amedy Coulibaly proved me wrong, but the chaos and horror in France revealed a hidden synergy in Jewish Atlanta.

The night before the slaughter at French weekly Charlie Hebdo, the American Jewish Committee-backed Muslim-Jewish Dialogue met at an Atlanta mosque to explore how Jews lived for centuries in harmony under Muslim rulers from Baghdad to Toledo, only for extremists to shatter the peace. The co-chairs of the Muslim-Jewish Task Force, Sandra Cuttler and Mamsa Bilal King, had a lot more than history to talk about the next day.

The Rev. Ike Reighard, the senior pastor at Piedmont Church and head of the vital faith-based charitable group MUST Ministries in Cobb and Cherokee counties, had agreed to talk about his end-of-year visit to Israel, but he wasn’t returning to Atlanta until Jan. 9 because he was spending most of a week in Paris first. He was about two miles from the Charlie Hebdo office when it was attacked, then was delayed at Charles de Gaulle Airport during the standoff two miles away that ended with the Kouachi brothers’ deaths.

Meanwhile, I had always intended our Jewish Film Festival coverage to explore what the French films say about the world’s third-largest Jewish community and the pressures that have made it the largest source of aliyah to Israel. Those pressures boiled over when Coulibaly killed four Jewish men at a kosher grocery Jan. 9.

When I walked into the AJT offices to restart this job Jan. 5, I never imagined leading the paper with a French headline; a week later, there was no other choice.

I am always amazed at how such threads weave themselves through our community day after day and through the AJT week after week. One of our missions is to reveal those connections in what often feels like not one Jewish community but many, divided by geography, denomination, age, politics and interests.

We need your help with that mission. The small AJT staff can’t know everything that is happening and every issue that is important to more than 120,000 people, and this isn’t our newspaper anyway. The AJT belongs to every person who is part of and cares about Jewish Atlanta, and it depends on you to take an interest in making it a newspaper of which you are proud.
I’ll talk more in coming weeks about my vision for the AJT in print and online, but first I ask you to share your vision. What do you want the AJT to be? What will make the AJT a newspaper you can’t wait to grab every Friday and a website you’re sure to visit every day?

Send me an email to mjacobs@atljewishtimes.com. Write me by snail mail to 270 Carpenter Drive, Suite 320, Sandy Springs, GA 30028. Call me at 404-883-2130, ext. 104.

I cannot promise I will agree with you. But I will listen, give your thoughts real consideration, and do my best to turn the AJT into a newspaper that pleases many of the people all of the time and all of the people at least some of the time.

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