Viewpoint: Concerns raised about Heritage content
February 21, 2020
Since 1976, the Heritage has been the only regularly published Jewish newspaper in our community. It was “founded with the purpose of helping to unify a scattered community by focusing on Jewish issues. It is published independently of any outside agency and depends solely on subscribers and advertisers for support.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando has been alerted to material in the Heritage that community members have found contrary to Jewish principles and values, as well as inconsistent with the Heritage’s stated mission “to unify a scattered community.” While some of these published pieces were clearly identified as editorials or expressions of the author’s personal opinion, others included inaccurate, biased, or bigoted language, presented as factual journalism.
In response to these concerns, JCRC engaged in in-depth conversations on how to balance the Heritage’s right, as a private entity that is not supported by or affiliated with any Jewish institution or agency, to publish whatever it sees fit with the fact that, although the Heritage does not speak for the Central Florida Jewish community, it is widely perceived to be a reflection of our community.
JCRC raised these concerns with the Heritage’s publisher Jeffrey Gaeser and is appreciative of his acknowledgement of the issues and commitment to pursuing a positive way forward. Mr. Gaeser and JCRC agree that xenophobic material should not appear in the Heritage. JCRC staunchly supports freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Yet it is equally adamant in ensuring that a clear distinction is made between opinion and fact, and that words that reflect stereotyping, bigotry, or hatred—whether of Jews or anyone else—are contrary to Jewish values and worthy of being called out.