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Passover Feature (3): New Jewish Magazine Launched with Focus on Family Traditions

The future of the American Jewish community will fall upon the shoulders of “those who can meet the spiritual needs and answer the day-to-day questions of families and children,” says Yosef Abramowitz has launched a new magazine, Jewish Family and Life.

Several parenting magazines are already on the market, but none of them offer a Jewish context, says Abramowitz, co-founder and editor of the quarterly magazine.

Targeting people between the ages of 25 to 49, and families with at least one Jewish parent and an average income of $75,000 a year, Abramowitz hopes to reach a population that is largely assimilated in American society but has as desire to learn more about its religion and impart that knowledge and tradition to its children.

“The average age of any Jewish magazine reader is 62 and most of the magazines are connected with institutions. They all have their place and their role,” says Abramowitz, 31, a former editor at Moment magazine.

For Abramowitz, Jewish Family and Life is the elixir for what ails American Jewry, particularly the high rate of assimilation.

“The level of disenchantment with Jewish organizations and Jewish life is great and the idea is to empower Jewish families to do Judaism and to have fun,” says Abramowitz, who wants to make Judaism “celebratory, accessible and hip.”

The magazine, says Abramowitz, will combine articles that explore issues of concern to Jewish parents, as well as features by and about Jewish celebrities.

In the premiere issue, dedicated to Passover, movie mogul Steven Spielberg reveals his recipe for matzah brei while discussing the role of Judaism in his family.

Children’s entertainer Shari Lewis and Fyush Finkel of the television show “Picket Fences” discuss their seder plans.

Also in the first issue are articles on how to raise moral and Jewish children, and Jewish women and breast cancer. First lady Hillary Roddham Clinton writes a guest column about children and sprituality, and Dr. Ruth Westheimer expounds on Jewish sex.

The magazine will regularly feature articles on relationships, holidays, life transitions, teenagers and multimedia.

“We are parenting with purpose, but we have attitude. There is always going to be a hint of social action that will permeate our pages,” says Abramowitz.

“I am a constructive critic of the American Jewish community. I am not one to sit quietly on the sidelines and kvetch.”

Abramowitz says he first noticed unhappiness with Jewish life while his wife, Rabbi Susan Silverman, led a Reform congregation in Silver Springs, Md., where half the couples were intermarried. Silverman is a co-founder of the magazine.

Abramowitz says that in the 1990s, Israel and the Holocaust “are no longer the central unifying and motivating factors of Jewish life as they used to be.”

What is uppermost in the minds of American Jews is concern for family life, says Abramowitz, himself the father of two young children.

Through the new magazine “we are completely reconstituting Judaism to rejuvenate. Jewish family life,” he says. The magazine will address family life with “pizazz.”

Initially, 200,000 copies of the magazine will be distributed, reaching 800,000 to 1 million people, Abramowitz says.

The first few issues will be distributed free of charge to 100,000 people whose names were found through existing lists.

“The reason why we can distribute so many copies initially for free is because we have the most attractive demographic of any family parenting or Jewish magazine in the country,” he says. “We are an advertiser’s dream come true.”

Jewish Family and Life has attracted Microsoft, Levi’s and Casio, companies that have never before advertised in a Jewish magazine.

The magazine also will be distributed through the Jewish Community Centers Association, synagogue and federations.

We are transdenominational,” he says. “We don’t preach any brand of Judaism.”

About 25,000 copies will be available at newsstands and Barnes and Nobles superstores.

“We are going to be up there with the other parenting magazines, not in the bottom with the Jewish magazines,” he says. “We have a revolution that is about to be launched.”

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