My favourite cover stories, part one

LGBT kippah

One of the best parts of my job is deciding what will grace the cover of The Canadian Jewish News each week. As 2015 draws to a close, here are some of my favourite cover stories from 2015:

1. Say What, Jan. 29: In the wake of the terror attacks on a kosher supermarket and the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, we explored the issue of free speech. Marni Soupcoff, executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, argued that it’s best to air, not muzzle, offensive opinions, while B’nai Brith Canada honorary counsel David Matas countered that incitement to hatred is different than blasphemy.

2. Jewish. Black. Canadian, Feb. 26: Moshe Modeira explained what it’s like to be Jewish and black in a moving essay. “I had to be given a dual education in the richness of my Jewish heritage alongside reminders of the responsibility that comes with being a black man,” he wrote. Elsewhere in that issue, we explored the state of black-Jewish dialogue in Canada, and looked back at the life of Emerson Swift, Canada’s first black Jew.

3. Jewish high schools search for answers, March 26: After Ottawa’s main community high school announced it would close due to low enrolment, Lila Sarick reported on the state of Jewish high schools across the country. School administrators in Winnipeg, Montreal and Toronto were very open about their struggles, but the news wasn’t all bad: in Vancouver, where enrolment has improved over the past four years, King David High School co-president Ari Shiff outlined his strategies for overhauling the local Jewish day school system.

4. A time to be born, a time to die, May 14: Laying out the cold, hard facts, Lauren Kramer, investigated how much a Jewish funeral costs across the country. It turns out the price of a Jewish funeral varies significantly depending on where you live in Canada – in Ottawa, Halifax and Saskatoon, plots range from $2,400 to $12,000, while in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal the cost of a plot, headstone and burial can run beyond $30,000. The lesson: plan ahead, and start saving now.

5. Priced Out, June 18: The Jewish community is not immune to the effects of the housing bubble, as Sheri Shefa found out. In fact, soaring housing prices are affecting where Jews choose to settle, and in many cases, young families are being forced to live outside the traditional boundaries of the community.

6. When Jews come out of the closet, June 25: To mark Gay Pride Week, Jodie Shupac explored how coming out can place major strains on Jewish families. The issue remains such a taboo in the Jewish community that many are still unwilling to even discuss it. Still, some people are beginning to speak out, and Torontonian Marilyn Lazar is a case in point. She described celebrating Pride with her son: “He not only ‘came out,’” she wrote, “he came in – he came into his own. He looked free, confident, happy and himself. What more could a mother ask?”

Next week: six more cover stories that made waves in 2015.