Chicago Jewish Star
Front page of the December 7–20, 2001,
issue of the Chicago Jewish Star
|Type||Free semi-monthly newspaper|
|Owner||Star Media Group, Inc.|
|Founded||February 22, 1991|
The Chicago Jewish Star is an independent twice-monthly general interest Jewish newspaper based in Skokie, Illinois. It provides news analysis and opinion on local, national and international events of relevance to the Jewish community, with a focus on literature and arts, politics, and the Middle East. It is a continuation of The Jewish Star (Alberta), a Canadian newspaper operated by the same principals from 1980-90.
The Chicago Jewish Star was founded in 1990 by Douglas Wertheimer, Editor and President of Star Media Group Inc., and Gila Wertheimer, Associate Editor, with its first issue appearing February 22, 1991. It entered a Chicago Jewish newspaper field dominated by the Jewish Federation-run, controlled-circulation JUF News (founded in 1972), and the long-running independent weekly The Sentinel (founded in 1911). The Jewish Star was the first new Jewish newspaper published solely for the Chicago area in nearly 75 years.
The Jewish Star was the first Jewish newspaper in Metro Chicago to receive news by fax or electronically; the first to be distributed for free at locations throughout Metro Chicago; the first to be distributed via street corner news boxes; and the principals were the first to publish Jewish newspapers in both Canada and the United States.
Editorial, Advertising, Circulation, Design
Local news, editorial, advertising and design is generated mainly in-house, with additional news and feature contributions from syndicated columnists, news services and occasionally freelance writers. The editorial position has been independent; politically, its stance has changed on some issues. Following the signing of the Oslo Accords in Washington in 1993, for example, the paper remained cautiously optimistic about Mideast peace even in the face of Palestinian violence against Israel. But by 2007, it was in the camp of those who question the two-state solution.
A tabloid-sized newspaper ranging from 12 to 36 pages, it had a circulation at its launching of 10,000 copies, rising to 20,000 in 1993 and 24,500 by 1996. The paper is available free for pick-up at locations throughout Metro Chicago, by mail subscription and in an email PDF edition (since December 2008). Its masthead was designed in 1990 by Chicago graphic artist Gerry Kalvelage of BBDO, and includes the newspaper’s motto "Useful Information Faithfully Recorded" (a loose translation from the Hebrew of Ecclesiastes XII:10).
In the annual Chicago Headline Club-sponsored Peter Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism competition for work done in 2012, the Jewish Star won awards in its publishing category for Arts Reporting, Political and Government Reporting, and Editorial; and had eight Finalist citations in six entry groups (Design, Political and Government Reporting, Editorial, Sports, Arts, In-Depth Reporting).
In the Lisagor competition covering 2011, the paper won the award for Best Arts Reporting and Criticism; and had two Finalist citations in the Arts Reporting entry group. In the competition covering 2010, it received awards for Best Arts Reporting and Criticism, and Best Newspaper Design; and a total of five Finalist citations in four entry groups (Editorial, Arts, In-Depth Reporting, Design). In the competition covering 2009, it was a Finalist for Best Editorial Writing.
Controversies and Issues
First Amendment rights and newspaper distribution
After World War II, newspapers had increasingly relied on distribution of single copies from news boxes on public streets (a right recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1988 in City of Lakewood v. Plain Dealer Publishing Co.). Nonetheless,the practice was challenged by some municipalities. The Jewish Star began distributing its free newspaper in its own street-corner news boxes (also referred to as news racks, honor boxes or vending machines) in March 1991, the only Chicago Jewish newspaper ever to do so.
In January 1992, the administration of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley began a program to have newspaper publishers voluntarily re-align their multiple news boxes along North Michigan Avenue; at the time, Chicago was typical in having no permit or licensing requirements concerning the placement of news boxes. A few months after the Chicago beautification program was launched, the Jewish Star complained to the city about mysterious damage to its news boxes. "If you have any evidence that this damage was caused by an employee of the City of Chicago," the city advised, "the City Department of Law would be happy to review it." The news box "clean up" soon expanded to other downtown Chicago areas, and the Jewish Star continued to encounter unauthorized movement of its news boxes. The Jewish Star maintained a surveillance of its news boxes, and on the night of June 22, 1994, photographed a City of Chicago Streets and Sanitation employee using bolt cutters to slice through the chain on a legally positioned Jewish Star news box at Michigan Avenue and Adams Street, and then moving it.
The Jewish Star enlisted the support of local city aldermen, an Illinois state senator, the Illinois Press Association and the American Civil Liberties Union in protesting what it termed "a blatantly illegal act." The city claimed that "no City employee has removed or destroyed any Chicago Jewish Star boxes or newspapers." Writing on behalf of the Jewish Star, the ACLU responded: "For your information, the Star has a photograph of a City employee, who was driving a Streets and Sanitation truck, in the process of removing the box in question."
In September 1994, a Jewish Star news box on the near north side of Chicago was blown up; a few days later, the Jewish Star and two politicians met with a top city official, and shortly thereafter resolved the dispute. After the refusal of its offer of a cash settlement for damages to Jewish Star news boxes, the city paid the requested amount of $1,600 to the Jewish Star.
In the ensuing years, the city adopted an ordinance restricting news box placement. At that time, the Jewish Star criticized the Daley administration for considering news boxes no more than "visual clutter," and fellow newspaper publishers for failing to fight the city on First Amendment grounds.
Plagiarism and circulation falsification have long been problems in journalism, continuing during the 1990s. In March 1995, Jewish Star Editor Douglas Wertheimer asserted to the Ethics Committee of the American Jewish Press Association (AJPA) that two of its member publications "are engaging in questionable journalistic practices, and have been doing so for a considerable period of time." The allegations were made against the Chicago Jewish News and The Sentinel, weekly Chicago Jewish newspapers, in a five page letter with 98 pages of documentation, subsequent additions and an oral presentation by Wertheimer before the Ethics Committee. In August, the AJPA Ethics Committee issued a four page report upholding the Jewish Star claims. Concerning the Chicago Jewish News, the AJPA stated, "We censure the apparent violations that have taken place to date," noting that "there is substantial credible documented evidence of a pattern of neglect on the part of the Chicago Jewish News of failure to obtain advance permission and/or to properly credit the source of various items used since it began publication." Concerning The Sentinel, the report stated, "There is substantial credible documentation of the use of circulation figures claimed by The Sentinel which are substantially in excess of the publication’s official figures." The report characterized Wertheimer’s allegations against the two newspapers as "made in good faith." In response, Chicago Jewish News editor and publisher Joseph Aaron accused Wertheimer of "immoral, underhanded, and anti-Jewish actions," claiming the charges "were absurd." Sentinel editor and publisher Jack Fishbein said, "Why don’t you just sell your own ads and worry about your own product?"
In June 1995, Wertheimer complained to the Consumer Fraud Bureau of the Illinois Attorney General about what he alleged were The Sentinel’s "fraudulent circulation figures." On December 1, 1995, The Sentinel entered into an assurance of voluntary compliance with the State of Illinois over the newspaper’s alleged violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, and paid the state $1,000 to "cover investigative costs."
As a result of the Jewish Star complaint, in December 1995 AJPA amended its by-laws "to make clear the various violations we dealt with in the recent Chicago matter."
Legislation affecting the Jewish community
Although a common custom among the vast majority of Jews, affixing a mezuzah on a doorpost became an act increasingly likely in Chicago to come in conflict with the rules of condominium associations, as that city typified a country which "has been condo crazy the past few years." In May 2004, two Jewish condo owners at Shoreline Towers Condominium in Chicago protested the association’s instruction that all exterior objects, including mezuzot, be removed. Later, other condo associations in Illinois, Florida and Texas were revealed to have adopted a similar restriction. In Chicago, unable to successfully resolve the matter by bringing pressure on the condo associations, litigation followed in 2005.
Detailed reporting on the controversy by the Jewish Star resulted in city and state legislation prohibiting mezuzah banning. After reading the first media coverage of the dispute, by the Jewish Star in July 2005, Chicago Alderman Burton Natarus composed in 10 minutes an ordinance amending Chicago’s Municipal Code to legally prohibit condo associations from banning mezuzah placement on exterior unit doorposts. Four months later, the ordinance was adopted. Meanwhile, though there were signs that the condo boards would resolve the legal dispute, Illinois State Senator Ira Silverstein, having read the same Jewish Star report as Natarus, was likewise appalled and introduced a bill in the Illinois Senate to prevent such rules by condo boards. The law came into effect in January 2007.
Notwithstanding this legislation, lawsuits continued involving Shoreline Towers Condominium Association. At one point, the Jewish Star successfully fended off an attempt to subpoena its records; at another, an Illinois law barring intimidating lawsuits was applied for the first time; and in yet another instance, a Federal Appeals Court in Chicago overruled an earlier decision, and determined that the Fair Housing Act can prohibit discrimination that occurs after homeowners occupy a dwelling.
Among other controversial issues appearing in the Jewish Star are: coverage of the expulsion of five students at Chicago’s Ida Crown Jewish Academy; the Chicago Jewish Federation pursuit of the estate of Sol Goldstein for an unpaid pledge; an Edgar Degas painting looted by the Nazis housed at the Art Institute of Chicago; reader outrage when the Jewish Star published a paid ad inviting Jews to a feast on Yom Kippur; Jewish surgeon Raymond Pollak’s whistleblower lawsuit against prominent Chicago-area hospitals; coverage of the controversy surrounding Jewel-Osco food stores’ aggressive move into the kosher food business; the city of Chicago’s sponsorship of anti-Israel activity during Arab Heritage Month and Chicago Arabesque; and an exhibit at the Spertus Museum which compared the plight of Palestinians and Jews.
- "'Chicago Jewish Star' Begins Publication," San Diego Jewish Times, March 14, 1991, p. 30; Editorial, “The Chicago Jewish Star,” Intermountain Jewish News, March 15, 1991, Section A, page 28; Erin Alexander, Jeff Borden, Alex Chun and Lisa Collins, “Street Talk: A Star is born,” Crain’s Chicago Business, March 25, 1991, p. 10.
- In the period from 1918 – when the bi-weekly Chicago Jewish Chronicle first appeared (American Jewish Year Book, Volume 51, 1950. New York: American Jewish Committee, 1950, p. 492) – to 1991, there were several monthly or less frequently appearing Jewish publications, but no new newspapers. The National Jewish Post, of Indianapolis, began a Chicago edition edited by its Indianapolis editor, Gabriel M. Cohen, in 1953 (American Jewish Year Book, Volume 56, 1955. New York: American Jewish Committee, 1955, p. 552); see also Chicago Jewish Star, Feb. 22, 1991, p. 4.
- Helen Davis filed reports to the Jewish Star on the Madrid Middle East peace conference by fax from Madrid on Oct. 29, which were printed for the next day’s issue (Chicago Jewish Star, Oct. 31, 1991). The Jewish Star received material from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in New York electronically from its first issue in 1991 until the fall of 2010.
- For the former, see Editorial, "Too early to give up," Chicago Jewish Star, Nov. 19, 1993, p. 4; for the latter, see Editorial, "No Time for a Terrorist State," Chicago Jewish Star, Aug. 24, 2007, p. 4.
- Chicago Jewish Star, Feb. 22, 1991, p. 1.
- Joel Kaufmann, “A new Star is shining on Chicago’s horizon,” Chicago Advertising & Media, Issue 85, April 16–30, 1993, p. 16.
- Greg Hinz, "Pulp Friction," Chicago magazine, vol. 45, April 1996, p. 26.
- Chicago Jewish Star, March 19, 2004, p. 15.
- "Chicago Headline Club Announces Lisagor Award Winners," Chicago Headline Club, May 3, 2013.
- "Congratulations to our Lisagor Finalists!" Chicago Headline Club. Accessed May 5, 2013.
- "Congratulations to our 2011 Lisagor WINNERS!" Chicago Headline Club, May 4, 2012.
- Chicago Jewish Star, April 6, 2012, p. 3.
- "Chicago Headline Club Announces Winners of Peter Lisagor Awards," Chicago Headline Club, 2011.
- Chicago Jewish Star, May 6, 2011, p. 12.
- "2009 Lisagor Finalists announced," Chicago Headline Club. Accessed May 5, 2013.
- Chicago Jewish Star, July 15, 1994, pp. 1-2.
- Lawrence R. Levin, "News media must meet challenge of newsbox regulation," Editor & Publisher, Sept. 21, 1991, p. 28.
- Chicago Jewish Star, March 8, 1991, p. 3.
- "For Immediate Release: City Cleans Up North Michigan Avenue Vending Machines," Chicago Department of Planning and Development (press release), Jan. 11, 1992.
- Letter, Thomas Smith, City of Chicago Planning Department, to Paul Wertheimer, Chicago Jewish Star, Aug. 17, 1992.
- Robert Davis, "City again seeking to put tighter lid on newspaper box clutter," Chicago Tribune, April 6, 1994, sec. 2, p. 4.
- Other newspapers had similar problems, and complained to their city alderman; Edward R. Allen, "Ward crews grab free papers’ boxes," Skyline, May 6, 1993, sec. 1, p. 3.
- The photograph was reproduced in D. Wertheimer, "On Chicago streets, free speech succumbs to 4' long bolt cutters," Chicago Jewish Star, July 15, 1994, p. 1 (b&w); Mark Fitzgerald, "Refusing To Get With The Program", Editor & Publisher, Aug. 6, 1994, p. 16 (b&w); Joel Kaufmann, "Jewish Star newspaper boxes under siege on Chicago streets," Chicago Advertising & Media, Sept. 1-15, 1994, p. 1 (color); and reported on by Jean Davidson, "Strength in numbers," Chicago Tribune, July 22, 1994, sec. 5, p. 2.
- Letter, Susan Haerr Zucker, Assistant Corporation Counsel, City of Chicago to Jane M. Whicher, ACLU Chicago, Aug. 15, 1994.
- Letter, Jane M. Whicher, ACLU to Susan Haerr Zucker, City of Chicago, Aug. 18, 1994.
- "Jewish paper’s box target of blast," Chicago Tribune, Sept. 3, 1994; "Police Blotter," Skokie Review (Pioneer Press), Sept. 8, 1994, p. 8; "Chicago Jewish Star newsbox vandalized," Editor & Publisher, Sept. 17, 1994, p. 33; D. Wertheimer, "Stars are blown-up and stolen, but a City meeting provides some promise," Chicago Jewish Star, Sept. 23, 1994, p. 1.
- Michael Laff, "News box dispute with City may end," Chicago Jewish Star, Sept. 23, 1994, p. 1.
- Karen Bennett, "Dispute with city over newspaper boxes resolved", Skokie Life, Sept. 22, 1994, sec. 1, p. 5; D. Wertheimer, "City, Star settle news box dispute," Chicago Jewish Star, Oct. 14, 1994, p. 3.
- "'Is cash in an envelope enough?'", Chicago Jewish Star, Aug. 19, 1994, p. 2.
- Mark Fitzgerald, "Chicago Jewish paper settles newsbox dispute," Editor & Publisher, Oct. 8, 1994, p. 32.
- Mark Fitzgerald, "Chicago Publishers Howl As City Imposes Rack Law," Editor & Publisher, April 18, 1998, p 24.
- D. Wertheimer, "Shop Talk at Thirty: Ill Winds Blow Over Windy City News Racks," Editor & Publisher, August 29, 1998, p. 56.
- In 1930, the Chicago Jewish Chronicle was accused of reprinting articles without permission and changing the names of the authors (Joseph Salmark, "An Unethical Practice," The Sentinel, Aug. 22, 1930, p. 2).
- Mark Fitzgerald, "Editor [at the Chicago Sun-Times] Quits After Admitting He Plagiarized," Editor & Publisher, March 18, 1995, p. 11; Trudy Lieberman, "Plagiarize, plagiarize, plagiarize," Columbia Journalism Review, July/Aug. 1995; see also D. Wertheimer, "In Chicago: Circulation inflation," Chicago Jewish Star, June 25, 2004, p. 1.
- Letter, D. Wertheimer to Robert A. Cohn, March 14, 1995.
- Robert A. Cohn, Chair, AJPA Ethics Committee, "Report of the AJPA Committee on Ethics and Professional Standards on the Allegations by the Chicago Jewish Star against the Chicago Jewish News and The Sentinel," Aug. 21, 1995.
- Michael Laff, "Ethics group faults 2 local papers over journalistic conduct," Chicago Jewish Star, Sept. 8, 1995, pp. 1, 3; see also John Kinzie Jr., “The Media: AJPA faults two of its member publications,” Near North News, Chicago, Sept. 23, 1995, p. 3.
- Letter, D. Wertheimer to Office of the Attorney General, State of Illinois, June 29, 1995.
- Letter, Charles G. Fergus to D. Wertheimer, Dec. 13, 1995; AVC Registry CPC 9500155, Dec. 1, 1995; CJS, Dec. 22, 1995, p. 3.
- Letter, Robert A. Cohn, Chair, AJPA Ethics Committee to D. Wertheimer, Dec. 19, 1995.
- "Chicago condo bans mezuzahs," Chicago Jewish Star, July 15, 2005, p. 1.
- Alex Frangos, "Chicago: Fear of Heights?" The Wall Street Journal, July 26, 2005, p. A17.
- "More mezuzah bans," Chicago Jewish Star, Aug. 5, 2005, p. 1.
- Joe Kollin, "Lauderdale condo bans religious symbol on doorposts," South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Feb. 3, 2007; "Florida condo bans mezuzahs," Chicago Jewish Star, Feb. 9, 2007, p. 1; "Florida mezuzah ban ends," Chicago Jewish Star, April 20, 2007, p. 1; "Florida gets a mezuzah bill," Chicago Jewish Star, May 23, 2008, p. 3.
- "Illinois, then Florida – is Texas next?" Chicago Jewish Star, April 3, 2009, p. 1; "No mezuzah law for Texas," Chicago Jewish Star, July 3, 2009, p. 1; “Texas gets a mezuzah law,” Chicago Jewish Star, May 27, 2011, p. 1.
- Mark Fitzgerald, "Chicago Law Inspired by 'Jewish Star' Articles May Go State-wide," Editor & Publisher, Jan. 26, 2006
- Mark Fitzgerald, "Illinois Gov. Signs Mezuzah Law Inspired by 'Chicago Jewish Star'," Editor & Publisher, April 12, 2006
- Ruth Eglash, "The case of the confiscated mezuzah," Jerusalem Post, June 8, 2006.
- D. Wertheimer, “Not on our doorposts: Chicago condo bans mezuzahs,” Chicago Jewish Star, July 15, 2005, pp. 1-2.
- Gary Washburn, "Natarus pushes religious liberty at condo doorstep," Chicago Tribune, August 31, 2005.
- "Ordinance to stop ban on mezuzahs; one condo concedes," Chicago Jewish Star, Aug. 19, 2005, p. 1; Mark Fitzgerald, "Mezuzah muckraking gains legal huzzahs," Editor & Publisher, Oct. 2005, p. 13.
- "A Holiday gift: Natarus’ Religious Freedom law," Chicago Jewish Star, Dec. 16, 2005, p. 1.
- "Condos end mezuzah ban," Chicago Jewish Star, Sept. 30, 2005, p. 1; Editorial, "Condo boards gone wild," Chicago Jewish Star, Sept. 30, 2005, page 4; Howard S. Dakoff, "Why I Opposed the Mezuzah Ban," Chicago Jewish Star, Nov. 4, 2005, p. 4.
- "Silverstein: No more mezuzah bans in Illinois," Chicago Jewish Star, Jan. 13, 2006, p. 1
- "Amplification & Update: Mezuzah legislation and litigation," Chicago Jewish Star, April 28, 2006, p. 3.
- “Mezuzah cases dismissed,” Chicago Jewish Star, Aug. 25, 2006, p. 1; Editorial, “Judge: Jews Not Welcome,” Chicago Jewish Star, Sept. 8, 2006, p. 4.
- Chicago Jewish Star, July 27, 2007, p. 1.
- “Fall-out from mezuzah case impacted by new law,” Chicago Jewish Star, April 4, 2008, p. 1; “$36k award in SLAPP-mezuzah case”, Chicago Jewish Star, Aug. 7, 2009, p. 1.
- Neil A. Lewis, “Potential Justice Offers a Counterpoint in Chicago,” The New York Times, May 12, 2009, p. A17; Peter Slevin, “Possible Court Pick Is Used to Dueling on Bench,” The Washington Post, May 16, 2009.
- Abdon Pallasch, "Suit over doorpost symbol hangs in there," Chicago Sun-Times, Nov. 14, 2009, p. 7; Kenneth E. Kraus, “Court takes a new view of FHA, mezuzah case,” Chicago Jewish Star, Nov. 20, 2009, p. 4; John Schwartz, “Fight Over Jewish Symbol Heads to Trial,” The New York Times, Nov. 21, 2009.
- Chicago Jewish Star, Jan. 14, 1994, p. 1.
- Chicago Jewish Star, Aug. 19, Sept. 2, 1994; Feb. 24, April 28, 1995; Jan. 26, 1996.
- Chicago Jewish Star, March 21, May 23, Nov. 7, 1997; Aug. 7, Aug. 21, 1998; March 12, June 25, 1999; Sept. 29, 2000.
- Chicago Jewish Star, Sept. 26, p. 14; Oct. 10, p. 4; Oct. 24, 2003, p. 4.
- Chicago Jewish Star, Oct. 10, 2003, p. 1, Editorial, p. 4; Nov. 21, 2003, p. 1; Aug. 19, 2005, p. 1.
- Chicago Jewish Star, Sept. 26, 2003; March 12, March 26, Oct. 29, Dec. 24, 2004.
- Chicago Jewish Star, Nov. 21, 2003; Nov. 26, 2004.
- Chicago Jewish Star, July 13, 2007, p. 1; July 3, p. 1; Sept. 18, 2009, p. 1; July 16, 2010, p. 1.
- Gila Wertheimer, “Imaginary Coordinates at a ‘posttribal’ museum,” Chicago Jewish Star, May 9, p. 11; June 27, 2008, p. 1; Jewish Star coverage of other Chicago art exhibits is cited in Michael C. Kotzin, “Pictures at an Exhibition: Art galleries, the academy, and anti-Israel polemics,” Antisemitism International Nos. 5-6 (2010), Special Issue, pp. 87, 89.
- Library users may access back issues of the Chicago Jewish Star through Ethnic NewsWatch or through HighBeam Research (by subscription).
- Edward Alexander, The State of the Jews: A Critical Appraisal, New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2012. Contains articles by Alexander originally appearing in the Chicago Jewish Star.