The challenges facing our Chronicle

By Lindy Diamond

In March 2020, as we faced a world pandemic and strict lockdowns, we had to make the very difficult decision to cancel the print run of the Chronicle for the first time in 36 years.

From that Pesach edition last year, and for the 11 issues that followed, the Chronicle has reached our community in digital format through our impressive website and through our extremely dynamic presence on Facebook and Instagram. The front covers of these issues are featured below, and in the digital issue of the Chronicle each PDF can be accessed by clicking on these front cover images. You can also go onto our website and click on the archive to read any of the past issues you may have missed.

Financial pressure and a switch to digital
During this very critical and challenging year, like many other print publications, we were unable to continue using the business model that had worked for decades before – our commercial advertisers were taking a hard financial knock and many were forced to withdraw their advertisements. Our communal organisations were obliged to cut their spends in order to get through the year and so reduced or cancelled their monthly bookings. Just the cost of printing and posting each Chronicle to our 5000 households, excluding all our fixed monthly costs, is about R20 per unit and when our contributors withdrew, we were left with no choice but to stop the hard copy to save the organisation.

Many of you, our readers, embraced the new digital format. We now average 3000 downloads per month of the Chronicle PDF and over 4500 website visitors. We have an online product of which we can be proud.

However, we know that there are readers who are unable to access our paper digitally. There are also many readers of all ages who just love the print copy. You like to let it ‘live’ in your homes, ready to be picked up and enjoyed by your whole family. You like to read it on Shabbat and chaggim, and even during loadshedding!

The way forward
Having consulted community leadership we have decided to strive to have at least three print issues a year. We are hoping to print and post hard copies of the Chronicle to our 5000 households for Pesach, Rosh Hashana and Channukah – this issue being the first.

But this will require buy-in from community organisations, commercial advertisers and you, dear community member. We would really value your response to receiving this print edition in your home. We would also appreciate, indeed need, your financial support by payment of your annual subscription – perhaps even sponsoring a subscription for someone who cannot afford it. By doing so, you will help keep the Chronicle, both digital and print, alive.

An archive of the CT Jewish community
A community leader recently commented “If the Chronicle didn’t exist we would have to create it!” Where else can you get a snapshot of the broad spectrum of our amazing communal organisations in one place?

Our role is unique. We are not a newspaper – we do not cover fast moving news but rather create a record or time capsule of what this community looked like, in any month of any year, going back to 1984.

To this end we are busy creating a full digital archive, spanning the entire history of the Chronicle, accessible from anywhere in the world, so that wherever you are you can use the Chronicle as a tool to gain insight into what the community looked like at any given time. Reading old Chronicles is fascinating. The shelf-life of our stories is impressive and you can track the changing community through the articles and faces contained in each issue.

I am very proud to have been a small part of this invaluable repository — in print and digital — and I hope to be a proud reader of what has happened in our vibrant Jewish community at the tip of Africa for many years to come.

“Pesach, the festival of Jewish freedom, will again be celebrated under unnatural and isolating conditions. The UHS thanks the Cape Jewish Chronicle for the excellent work it does in keeping our community connected”
Matthew Gruszd, Chairperson United Herzlia Schools Governing Body

“Whilst comprising an extraordinary rich array of over 50 organisations, each playing an important and significant role, our relatively small community displays a cohesiveness which is envied by many in the Jewish world.

It was this ‘sense of community’ which initially gave birth to the Cape Jewish Chronicle in 1984. Thirty-six years later, the CJC is still fulfilling its mission.

I am thrilled that, after the past very challenging and difficult year, we once again are able to enjoy a printed edition of ‘our Chronicle’.
Myra Osrin, Founder of the Cape Jewish Chronicle

“This is the most incredible resource available to ourselves and to our affiliates to showcase the incredible work that is done in our community.

Just as we exited the desert after 40 years of wandering, we will slowly emerge from a year of various levels of lockdown. My hope is that when we return to full normality we take every opportunity presented by our community; attend the functions, lend a hand at the many institutions and grass roots organisations which are our affiliates and become involved.”
Tzvi Brivik, Chairperson Cape SA Jewish Board of Deputies

“The Chronicle is an important record show-casing the essential work of the SAZF in connecting our community to Israel. It provides an educational forum on important Israeli political, cultural and innovation advances, and serves as a platform for us to feature our various partners and affiliates”
Karen Marsden, Chairperson South African Zionist Federation (Cape Council)

• Published in the print edition of the March/April Pesach 2021 issue. Download the March/April 2021 issue PDF here.

Visit our Portal to the Jewish Community to see a list of all the Jewish organisations in Cape Town with links to their websites.

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