The endless pandemic has collapsed time, but according to my calendar it’s been only six weeks since I launched this newsletter.
I thought it might be useful to take a beat to explain my vision and give you a sense of what you are supporting when you support this venture.
In old media, my paycheck came twice a month from a big institution. Now it comes in tiny increments, throughout the day, from . . . you.
There’s something so much more intimate about it. I feel accountable. I like both of those things.
Thanks to you, this newsletter now pays my old salary and more. I’m extremely grateful for that, and, especially, to have the freedom to pursue stories that I otherwise would not have the freedom to tell.
When people ask me what I do for work, journalist is the answer I give, but that really doesn’t explain what I do.
Crisis PR could explain it a bit. Community organizer could capture part. Therapist a little for sure.
In a given week, I’m often speaking to a handful of groups, most often Jewish communities, about antisemitism and the broader politics I explore in this newsletter. Here’s a talk I gave last week at Park Avenue Synagogue, in conversation with Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove. We touched on various topics including how to know when to maintain your seat at the table versus when to walk away; the political lessons of the Book of Esther; the impact critical race theory has on Jewish students; and much more. I hope you watch it:
Earlier this week, I got to play Queen Esther for a charity event benefiting the Met Council with Jeff Garlin from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” as my king. (I know, way outta my league.) It was a blast. So was the podcast I recorded today with the folks at Braver Angels.
Then there’s the bootleg Olivia Pope gig (unpaid of course). I try to help out people who are in terrible situations in their workplaces for no good reason. I wrote about one last week, at Smith College.
But for every Jodi Shaw, there are many who, for various reasons, do not want to go public. I’m often on conference calls with them and their lawyers, helping them navigate their rights and a public response. Business tip: Anyone who’s familiar with cancellations and good at navigating the press should open this business right now. I will send everyone your way.
I’d never call myself a community organizer (I haven’t read “Rules for Radicals”), but there are two organizations I’m helping get off the ground. This also takes a chunk of my time. One is a sizable nonprofit meant to pick up the flag that the ACLU and SPLC have put down — more on that in the next week or two when it launches. The other is a new movement for young Jewish activists who have been on the frontlines of campus hostility — again, more to come soon.
I also offer free editing to the various thought criminals who seek me out. One of them sleeps next to me: If you don’t yet read her blog about converting to Judaism, I highly recommend it.
And then there’s this newsletter, which has given me a platform for writing and editing that I missed so much since I resigned from the Times last summer.
So: What are my plans for it? Expansion.
A podcast, for sure. But I also want to bring you some of the voices I really respect on topics that are intentionally overlooked — there are a growing number of them these days.
Next week, I’m trying that out with a series on education. You’ll get a long piece from me, along with contributions from other writers who I am commissioning. All of these writers get paid — and a better rate than I could offer at a newspaper.
Until now, nothing on this newsletter has been behind a paywall. But many of you have voluntarily become paying subscribers. By doing that, you allow all of this work. If you haven’t subscribed yet, now would be a great time. If you cannot afford it, please write to me and I’ll be happy to arrange.
No matter what: thank you for reading. I’m grateful.