Thursday, December 11, 2014

Gary Rosenblatt to Keynote ATOH 2015

Editor, Publisher, Mensch: Abq Jew is thrilled to announce (if you haven't seen it in the Link or the eLink) that the keynote speaker for A Taste of Honey 2015 will (אי״ה) be Gary Rosenblatt, editor and publisher of The Jewish Week of New York.

Gary Rosenblatt is often described as “the dean of Jewish journalism” for his award-winning writing and reporting over a span of four decades.

His topic will be:

The Joys and Oys of a Jewish Journalist:
Covering One’s Community from the Inside

Gary is also the author of the recently-published Between the Lines: Reflections on the American Jewish Experience.

Of which, Amazon says:
Gary Rosenblatt has been the editor and publisher of The New York Jewish Week for over 20 years. Here for the first time, is a curated collection of his most thoughtful Between the Lines columns, selected from the more than 1000 he has written since 1993.  
Between the Lines is a 278 page book featuring 80 columns ranging from prescient analyses of the Mideast situation to warm remembrances of his childhood as the Jewish rabbis son in Annapolis Maryland.
Abq Jew first learned of Gary's new book by - what else? - reading an opinion piece that Gary wrote for The Jewish Week: Love Me, Love My Book.

In which Gary describes the grueling yet exhilarating ordeal of presenting a 2-minute pitch to attendees of the Jewish Book Council's "Meet the Authors" event, with they hope that many of said attendees will start him on a national book tour.
It’s every author’s dream. And nightmare. 
The chance to address several hundred people from around the country who, deeply attentive, have come to New York for three days and one purpose — to find speakers for their local Jewish community book fairs, sisterhood luncheons and other cultural programs. 
The annual spring “Meet the Authors” event, sponsored by the Jewish Book Council, is a golden opportunity because it gives writers a platform to promote their work at a time when the publishing industry, hurting financially, is doing less and less to support its authors. 
But there’s a catch. 
Since there are 274 authors on hand, each having written a book this year, they must make their pitch — choose me, choose me — within two minutes.
Not two minutes and two seconds, mind you. Two minutes. And if you go over your allotted time, the timekeeper gets up and stops you. 

Abq Jew did, in fact, ask Phyllis Wolf, the Albuquerque JCC's Art, Culture & Education Director - who has been producing ATOH for beaucoup years - whether she had been to the JBC and heard Gary's book pitch. 

And Phyllis's response?

Gary was a good speaker and it’s a very pertinent topic.
I liked how in two minutes he was able to capture the ‘tightrope he walks’
– honest criticism vs. rah rah rah and ‘damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t’.
I have been keeping him on my radar for keynoting ATOH.

Yes, Gary gave a really good book pitch. Here is how he prepared for it:
I spent more time than I’d anticipated preparing my own pitch for “Between The Lines,” my collection of about 80 Jewish Week columns from the last two decades. Getting my message down to about 360 words was tough. But Joyce Lit, the helpful Council Network associate who preps each of the authors in advance of their presentations, was encouraging. 
“Let them know you’ve been observing and commenting on the Jewish scene for four decades, that you’ve seen it all,” she said. “Tell them what’s changed and what’s remained the same. And use your humor, they’ll like that.” 
So I kept tinkering — adding here, cutting there. When I read my talk to Joyce over the phone a week before my big day, it came in at 1:57. Great, but I told her I wanted to inject more humor. She warned that “laugh time counts on the clock,” and suggested that even if I got a laugh I should just keep going.  (That’s not easy — forgoing the chance to milk every second of a positive audience response.) 
In the end it seemed to work out OK, though it went by in a blur. I summarized my book, got a few laughs, and no trap door opened under me to indicate my time was up. 
Now I wait, along with the hundreds of other authors, to see who gets invited where.

Abq Jew still subscribes to The Jewish Week - it's a great newspaper with a broad perspective that keeps him up to date on everything going on throughout the Jewish world. The Jewish Week is definitely not just for Greater New Yorkers.

But here is where Gary Rosenblatt made his name and firmly established his credentials as a journalist of integrity and courage: the Baruch Lanner scandal of 14 years ago.

In 2010 - a decade after those events - Gary looked back on what had happened in an opinion piece, A Decade Later, More Willingness To Confront Rabbinic Abuse.
The tenth anniversary of the public exposure in these pages of the “Lanner scandal” provides an opportunity to reflect on, and appreciate, how much has changed for the better in the last decade in responding to rabbinic sexual abuse. 
. . .
The story came to light when the first Jewish Week exposé appeared June 23, 2000, following months of investigation and dozens of interviews. It presented detailed allegations of how Rabbi Baruch Lanner, then 50 and the director of regions of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), the youth arm of the Orthodox Union (OU), sexually, physically and/or emotionally abused scores of teen-aged boys and girls in his charge over a period of three decades, despite numerous complaints lodged with the leadership of the organization. 
The response to the 5,000-word report was immediate and dramatic. 
The OU forced Lanner to resign that day and appointed a special commission to review and report on the charges. (Six months later, its 330-page report, based on interviews with 140 people, confirmed and expanded on The Jewish Week’s reporting and concluded that the OU leadership had made “profound errors of judgment,” including failures of management. Top officials were forced to resign and were replaced. NCSY developed a detailed and stringent policy regarding staff behavior, and parental supervision of and involvement in youth activities.) 
The Jewish Week received many hundreds of emails, letters and calls in support of the investigative report, while a relatively small but vocal and influential segment of the Orthodox community, including some of its rabbinate, sharply criticized the newspaper for going public, asserting it violated the religious prohibition against lashon hara, or gossip.
Abq Jew and family had been living in New Jersey for 18 years when the Lanner scandal broke. It turned out that our son, Dov Yellin the Film Editor, knew one of Lanner's victims. He had attended yeshiva with her - not where the abuse took place, and a few years before.

Dov had later heard from mutual friends that something was terribly wrong. But of course he didn't know what it was - no one knew what it was - and no one could then do anything about it.

He only found out when Gary Rosenblatt, with incredible courage, brought it all out into the open.

Which is why Abq Jew told Phyllis Wolf:

I don't know Gary personally,
but I'd love to see him in Albuquerque.

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