The Jewish Star (Alberta)
Front page of the first issue of
The Jewish Star (Calgary Edition)
|Type||Free fortnightly newspaper|
|Publisher||The Jewish Star Newspaper, Inc.|
|Founded||August 22, 1980|
|Ceased publication||June 1, 1990|
The Jewish Star was an independent fortnightly newspaper based in Calgary, Alberta, which began in 1980 to publish separate editions first in Calgary (ISSN 0228-2283) and then in the provincial capital of Edmonton (ISSN 0228-6017). The tabloid-sized newspapers (ranging from 8 to 28 pages per issue) were mailed on a controlled circulation basis to virtually all Jewish households in each city.
The Jewish Star was founded by Douglas Wertheimer, who served as Editor and President of The Jewish Star Newspaper, Ltd., and Gila Wertheimer, Associate Editor, with start-up funding from family members, supporters and bank loans. The founding of the newspaper coincided with an explosion of economic growth in Alberta related to the oil industry. Calgary, known since 1945 as one of Canada’s fastest-growing cities, had undergone a population increase of 47 percent from 1971 to 1981. Meanwhile, the Calgary Jewish community had increased by 50 percent from 1975-79 to about 6,000 Jews.
In A Century of the Canadian Jewish Press: 1880s-1980s, author Lewis Levendel wrote of The Jewish Star editions, “The most exciting event in Canadian Jewish journalism in the 1980s has been the brave attempt by an Alberta couple to launch an independent newspaper... The Stars – by far the most attractive of Canadian Jewish papers – have been showered with praise for their appearance, editorials and news coverage... Outside Alberta, Jewish journalists and communal officials familiar with the Star expressed admiration for the paper”.
While there had been a number of previous Jewish publications appearing on an irregular basis in Calgary, The Jewish Star was the first independent, commercial Jewish newspaper published there. Commenting on the start-up venture, the Calgary Herald noted that the paper had "avoided some of the more obvious first-issue pitfalls by using good layout, attractive printing free of typographical errors, professional writing by three international Jewish wire services and plenty of local content... there was [also] a heavy advertising content." After the launch of the Calgary Edition (published from August 22, 1980 through June 1, 1990), the Jewish Community Council in Edmonton invited the publishers to produce a separate Edmonton Edition. It ran as a monthly from December 1980 through June 1990, utilizing some of the same content. While also independent, it received a guaranteed annual purchase of subscriptions (an arrangement voluntarily terminated by The Jewish Star in 1987).
During the 1980s, the company was the sole independent publisher in Canada of more than one Jewish newspaper. In the late 1980s, it made an unsuccessful attempt to purchase the Jewish Western Bulletin of Vancouver.
Editorial, advertising, circulation
For the Calgary Edition, local news, editorial and advertising content were generated mainly by full-time Jewish Star staff, with other material for that edition coming from freelance writers and syndicated news services. For the Edmonton Edition, over the years a freelance writer provided local news coverage, and for most of the decade advertising was handled by the Dave Moser Agencies in that city. In 1988, controlled circulation for the Calgary edition averaged 1,900 copies, for the Edmonton edition 1,500. The editorial position of the newspapers was characterized as displaying “a small ‘l’ liberal stance,” with "no religious axe to grind." 
Awards and recognition
During the 1980s, The Jewish Star (Calgary Edition) won more journalistic awards than any other Jewish publication in Canada. The editors won first place Rockower Awards of the American Jewish Press Association in 1982 (editorial writing) and 1984 (editorial), an honorable mention in 1985 (design), and a second place award in 1987 (editorial).
From its launching, The Jewish Star was one of only two Canadian Jewish publications to produce its own book reviews, rather than reprint syndicated columns. Gila Wertheimer, among the most prolific literary critics in the Jewish media (having reviewed 206 books in The Jewish Star), also had pieces published in Judaica Book News (New York) and Canadian Jewish newspapers.
Controversies and issues
The Calgary Jewish Community Council had published an in-house non-commercial newspaper, the Calgary Jewish News, since 1962 (Douglas Wertheimer served as editor from 1979–80). For several years after the founding of the Calgary Jewish Star, tension existed between the organized community and the independent newspaper, reflected in frank reporting on the community. Early editorials were critical of the organized community for allowing its Jewish community center to be opened on Shabbat and for its treatment of visiting Israeli officials, and provided a forum for others who sought change. Community officials characterized The Star as “a divisive force”. The newspaper also faulted the Canadian Jewish establishment for its dismissive attitude towards Western Canadian Jews and in particular for its stance on the rescue of Ethiopian Jews.
In general the Edmonton Edition of The Star was less controversial than its Calgary counterpart, although inevitably material upset community officials (including an article by an Israeli shaliach about the end of the Edmonton Jewish community).
Calgary and Edmonton
At the end of 1982, a high school teacher in a small town between Calgary and Edmonton was fired for devoting classroom time to teaching the myth of the Jewish world-conspiracy. The case of Jim Keegstra of Eckville soon attracted national attention. One of the results was the testing, in court, of the hate promotion section of the Criminal Code of Canada. Beginning in April 1983 and for years afterwards, The Jewish Star covered the story, which included criticism of the handling of the case by the provincial government of Peter Lougheed, the Canadian Jewish Congress, and the Calgary Herald. Utilizing that knowledge, research materials, and interviews, D. Wertheimer collaborated with University of Calgary historian David J. Bercuson on a book-length study, A Trust Betrayed: The Keegstra Affair (published by Doubleday in Canada and the US, 1985, ISBN 0-385-25003-7; Bantam Seal paperback, 1987, ISBN 0-7704-2155-5). The book was called “a first rate account” in a Toronto Star review.
Even before the Keegstra controversy forced the Calgary and Edmonton Jewish communities to coordinate activities, The Star endorsed a unifying Jewish council for the province, which was eventually created.
Both editions of The Jewish Star published their final issues in June 1990. In the following month the Wertheimers left Canada and started the independent Chicago Jewish Star, that city’s first new Jewish newspaper published solely for that area in nearly 75 years.
- Shaula Fraenkel, compiler, The Jewish Star (Calgary edition) index, 1980-1986, Calgary: The Jewish Star Newspaper Ltd., 1990.
- Eliezer Segal, Why Didn’t I Learn This in Hebrew School?, Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson Inc., 1999. Contains articles by Segal originally appearing in The Jewish Star.
- Eliezer Segal, Holidays, History, and Halakhah, Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson Inc., 2000. Contains articles by Segal originally appearing in The Jewish Star.
- The Jewish Star, Calgary Edition, June 1, 1990, p. 4; “Five Years Later,” The Jewish Star, Calgary Edition, August 23, 1985, p. 7.
- Max Rubin, “Alberta’s Jews: The Long Journey,” in Howard and Tamara Palmer (eds.), Peoples of Alberta: Portraits of Cultural Diversity, Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1985, p. 346.
- Max I. Foran, “Calgary,” The Canadian Encyclopedia (Edmonton: Hurtig Publishers, 2nd edition, 1988), volume 1, page 315.
- “First issue of Jewish newspaper published in Calgary,” JTA Community News Reporter, New York, vol. 19, August 29, 1980, p. 1.
- Lewis Levendel, A Century of the Canadian Jewish Press: 1880s-1980s (Ottawa: Borealis Press, 1989, ISBN 0-88887-907-5), pp. 237, 242-3.
- "As the Globe turns West, the Sun and a Star Rise over Calgary," The Jewish Star, Calgary Edition, August 22, 1980, p. 1; "Jewish paper opens in Calgary," Jewish Western Bulletin (Vancouver), August 28, 1980, p. 12.
- "Calgarians try luck with new Jewish paper," Calgary Herald, September 27, 1980, p. G12
- Levendel, A Century of the Canadian Jewish Press, p. 243.
- "Calgary Jewish Star starts Jewish Star in Edmonton," JTA Community News Reporter, February 6, 1981, p. 2; "Edmonton Jewish Star begins monthly service," Canadian Jewish News, February 19, 1981, p. 6; "New monthly newspaper serves Edmonton Jewry," Jewish Western Bulletin (Vancouver), February 26, 1981, p. 6.
- The Jewish Star, Edmonton Edition, September 1987, p. 1.
- In the United States, the Heritage-Southwest Jewish Press of Los Angeles was then printing editions for four southern California areas (The Jewish Star, November 14, 1980, p. 8).
- Chicago Jewish Star, August 15, 2008, p. 11.
- Jean-Michel Lacroix, Anatomie de la presse ethnique au Canada (Presses Universitaires de Bordeaux, Centre d’etudes Canadiennes de Bordeaux, 1988, ISBN 2.85892.113.X), p. 276; “Five Years Later,” The Jewish Star, Calgary Edition, August 23, 1985, chart, p. 7.
- Levendel, A Century of the Canadian Jewish Press, p. 237.
- D. Wertheimer, quoted in Edmonton Journal, Jan. 26, 1981, p. B6.
- Shaula Fraenkel, compiler, The Jewish Star (Calgary edition) index, 1980-1986. Calgary: The Jewish Star Newspaper Ltd., 1990, ISBN 0-9694650-0-9, Preface.
- Fraenkel, The Jewish Star (Calgary edition) index, 1980-1986, p. 3; “Five Years Later,” The Jewish Star, Calgary Edition, August 23, 1985, sidebar, p. 6; “Prize to Star For Editorial,” The Jewish Star, Calgary Edition, May 15, 1987, p. 1.
- Canadian Jewish News, Jan. 28, 1982, p. 5.
- The Jewish Star, Calgary Edition, Feb. 19, 1982, p. 5; Chicago Jewish Star, February 22, 1991, p. 3.
- The Jewish Star, Calgary Edition, “The Centre’s Shabbat Policy,” editorial, January 9, 1981, p. 4.
- The Jewish Star, Calgary Edition, “An Embarrassment to Calgary’s Jews,” editorial, March 6, 1981, p. 4.
- e.g., “Rabbi Accuses Past CJCC Executive of Ignoring Basic Jewish Services,” Rabbi P. Hayman Letter to the Editor, The Jewish Star, Calgary Edition, February 3, 1984, p. 5.
- Levendel, A Century of the Canadian Jewish Press, p. 242.
- e.g., The Jewish Star, Calgary Edition, editorials of January 23, 1981, May 27, 1983.
- See The Jewish Star, Calgary Edition, editorials of May 15, 1981 and June 24, 1986; Douglas Wertheimer, “Ethiopian Rescue: The Establishment and the Activists,” Chicago Jewish Star, April 4, 2008, page 6.
- Levendel, A Century of the Canadian Jewish Press, p. 243.
- Danny Nishlis, “The Telegram,” The Jewish Star, Edmonton Edition, December 1987, p. 9.
- David J. Bercuson and Douglas Wertheimer, A Trust Betrayed: The Keegstra Affair, 1985, chapter 9.
- The Sunday [Toronto] Star, Dec. 29, 1985, p. E10.
- The Jewish Star, Calgary Edition, March 5, 1982, p. 4; Edmonton Edition, March 1982, p. 4.
- The Jewish Star, Calgary Edition, August 17, 1984, p. 2.
- Editorial, "Dear Reader: It's Time to Say Goodbye," The Jewish Star, Calgary Edition, June 1, 1990, p. 4; The Jewish Star, Edmonton Edition, June 1990, p. 1; "Jewish Star of Calgary, Edmonton, being sold," The Jewish Post & News, June 20, 1990, p. 16; American Jewish Year Book 1992, vol. 92, New York: American Jewish Committee, 1992, p. 295.
- “The Jewish Star, an independent Chicago area paper, debuts,” Chicago Jewish Star (ISSN 1054-1365) Vol. I, No. 1 (February 22, 1991), pp. 1, 4; American Jewish Year Book 1950, Volume 51, New York: American Jewish Committee, 1950, p. 492; American Jewish Year Book 1955, Volume 56, New York: American Jewish Committee, 1955, p. 552.
- The Archives of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary holds six meters of textual material contributed to it by The Jewish Star, as well as a complete print and microfilm run of the newspaper’s two editions, and a digital version of the Calgary edition, and the Fraenkel index
- Catalog record for The Jewish Star in Library and Archives Canada
- Works by or about The Jewish Star in WorldCat catalog