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Arizona Jewish Post folds after nearly 75 years of chronicling community

Founded in 1946 in Tucson as the Arizona Post, the Arizona Jewish Post will cease publication in March, its owners said, citing declining advertising revenues and deficits made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Post "served our community as a source of simchas and stories, advertisements and announcements," wrote Graham Hoffman, CEO of the Jewish Community Federation of Southern Arizona, in an email to subscribers co-signed by the group's COO, Lindsey Baker.

That organization and its predecessor have owned the newspaper since 1965. The Post is in an "unsustainable position," they said, resulting from "the accumulation of deficits, coupled with the massive decline in advertising revenue, resulting from the prolonged global pandemic."

Even eliminating print publishing and transitioning the Jewish Post into an all-online news source last year wasn't enough to save it, the group said.

The paper's sole remaining editorial staffer, Executive Editor Phyllis Braun, has already been laid off, she told the Jewish Telegraph Agency.

"I'm still processing it because I was there for so long," Braun, who had been with the Post for nearly 25 years, told JTA. "I am sad not only for myself but for the community because I know the paper will be missed."

The Jewish Federation's marketing arm will continue to deliver information "through alternative vehicles," they wrote. "We will, of course, transition those elements of the AJP that were most celebrated and successful into other channels."

The Federation and the associated Jewish Community Foundation of Southern Arizona are combining marketing efforts "for the first time in our history," they said.

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The paper was founded in 1946 as the Arizona Post by husband and wife team of Myer Rutz and Rebecca Staman Rutz. Published every other week, the newspaper was 10-16 pages in its first years. Its initial slogan was "Keep Posted with the Arizona Post!", changed in December 1947 to "Arizona's Pioneer American-Jewish Newspaper," according to the archives of the Arizona Memory Project.

From the Memory Project, which has a collection of early issues of the paper available online:

In an interview with the Jewish Historical Society of Southern Arizona Oral History Project, Rebecca Rutz explained: “I remember I had said that we had three objectives with the paper. It would mirror the Jewish community…It would be Zionist. And it would be liberal.” Rebecca also noted that, at the time, Tucson’s Jewish community was small, "somewhere around 250 Jewish families,” so the paper “stressed Jewish activity, Jewish identity.”

... The August 17, 1956 issue of the Post declared “Sholom! This is your NEW Arizona Post...fresh from its new Hebraic-script masthead to the clever rib-tickling cartoon ‘Dayenu.’” The new publishers were Abe and Mildred Chanin. Abe, who was also the new editor, was a graduate of the University of Arizona and a reporter for the Arizona Daily Star. The new masthead now included the date in the Hebrew calendar; for example, printed alongside “Friday, August 17, 1956” was “10 Elul 5716.” The Chanins ran the Arizona Post until the Tucson Jewish Community Council purchased it in 1965.

The Arizona Jewish Post is joining the ranks of thousands of other local newspapers, large and small, that have been shuttered in recent years.

More than one in five of U.S. newspapers were closed in the 15 years before 2020 — and the number of local news outlets that are being closed has only skyrocketed during the pandemic.

More than 60 local newsrooms across the country were shut down last year, with many more enduring layoffs, furloughs and cutbacks.

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