‘Jewish Light,’ jewishinstlouis to unveil newly revamped websites

A preview of the upcoming redesign of jewishinstlouis.org

Two major St. Louis Jewish websites – stljewishlight.com, the St. Louis Jewish Light newspaper online, and jewishinstlouis.org, the St. Louis Jewish community’s website (a service of Jewish Federation) – are embracing new technologies and designs to better serve the Jewish community. The Jewish Light and jewishinstlouis.org leaders have been collaborating to coordinate website kickoffs to provide improved access to information, news and Jewish life.

“We are so pleased that the Jewish community in St. Louis can benefit from having both an online community portal in jewishinstlouis and an independent news organization in the Jewish Light,” said Larry Levin, Light Publisher/CEO. “Both have key roles to play, and with both having newly expanded websites, the community is richer and better connected than ever.”

Jewish Light website debuts today

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The completely revamped and improved Jewish Light website will be up and running today. “We have worked for the better part of a year to determine what we need to have a superior website, “said Levin. “Our staff, Board and outside experts have weighed in, and we think the result is a vastly updated and improved web experience over our previous site.”

Changes to the site include:

• Discussion and comment opportunities.

• Greater opportunities for multimedia such as photos, slideshows and video.

• Rapid response to breaking news.

• Opportunities for advertisers to promote their businesses online.

• Easier and more effective navigation.

• Special online opportunities for lifecycle events, including weddings, births, anniversaries, and timely obituary information online.

• Interaction with the Light’s social network sites.

“We have spent an incredible amount of time and energy with our newspaper product in the past year, making it more responsive to our readers,” said Ellen Futterman, Jewish Light Editor. “Now we’ll be able to give our web readers an up-to-date look and content on the web that parallels our newspaper improvements.”

The Jewish Light’s Board has been actively involved in the process for the new website. Trustee Daniel Rubinstein has served as the Board’s ongoing liaison with staff on the project, and the Business and Editorial Committees of the Jewish Light, chaired respectively by Gary Kodner and Susie Zimmerman, have devoted substantial time to the project. “We’ve been so pleased that Daniel, along with Gary’s and Susie’s committees, have played such a major role in partnering with our staff to build a greatly improved website,” said Jewish Light Board President Gianna Jacobson.

One thing that will remain the same is the easy link from the Calendar button on the Jewish Light’s home page to the jewishinstlouis Community Calendar of Events listings. “We worked in partnership last year with Jewish Federation to ensure one centralized calendar listing online for the community,” said Levin, “and it’s been very well received, so we are excited to continue that collaboration.”

Jewishinstlouis.org launches Version 3 in June

Since the website’s inception in June 2005, jewishinstlouis.org has welcomed more than one million visitors and is one of the most successful Jewish community websites in the country. Jewishinstlouis is among more than 120 sites in The Jewish Federations of North America’s FedWeb system.

Behind the scenes, the site has been undergoing – both visual and technical transformations. When it makes its public debut, it will sport a new, streamlined look with easier access to the site’s immense variety of content. The goal of the redesign is to make it easier for readers of all ages – from kids to seniors – to personalize their experience on the site.

Several new jewishinstlouis features include:

• An improved, expanded Jewish Community Directory with new tools for organizations, congregations and Jewish groups.

• New Community Events Calendar, offering more personalized Calendar options for young adults, teens, families, and special interest groups. The Calendar will also offer more visibility and control to agencies, services, organizations, congregations.

• Expanded e-Kitchen with more recipes and recipe archives.

• New columns and blogs for all ages, affiliations and interests.

• New partnership with the Jewish Television Network.

• Roster of new sponsors, including: The St. Louis Rams, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Maryville University

The jewishinstlouis redesign project is supported by a generous gift from the Louise Golman Endowment for Jewish Federation. Louise and her husband, Sam Golman, both deceased, stipulated that their three daughters – Ellen Golman, Sally Kaplan and Allison Burgess – would administer their philanthropic funds after they were gone. The Golmans’ daughters designated that one of the funds would be used to take jewishinstlouis to the next level – in order to expand and improve this online community service and reach the younger generations. Said Allison, “If we’re going to continue to attract the next generation of Jews, we have to reach out to them in ways they’re used to. What better way than a website to reach the Jewish community locally, national and internationally?”

“With this website endowment,” said Debbie Warshawski, jewishinstlouis project manager, “The Golmans have given a significant gift that keeps on giving to the next generations of Jews. And the ‘next generations’ pose the most exciting opportunities and challenges for this community project.” The jewishinstlouis staff is using community feedback and usage to guide the redesign process. “We welcome feedback and are guided by five years of extensive community participation and comments. With the new design, we are continuing to give our readers a professional website that is informative, enjoyable and strengthens our Jewish community.”

Nancy and Randy Green, founding co-funders of jewishinstlouis, are thrilled that the website continues to exceed even its most optimistic projections. “It was envisioned as a centralized social and informational resource of all things Jewish in St. Louis and he has gone beyond expectations.

The redesign is a new chapter in its development that will bring many new exciting offerings and even greater value to our community with particular emphasis on teens, young adults and social networking. Intended from its initial planning stages as a gift to the entire the Jewish community, I am particularly gratified to know that jewishinstlouis has been embraced so overwhelmingly by St. Louisans of all ages. I am confident that our strong Jewish community will continue to shape its website in a manner that will serve each person’s unique interests Jewishly as well as our broader community needs.”

Mont and Karen Levy, also funding co-founders, concur. “We are thrilled with the success of jewishinstlouis. It has exceeded our expectations and we are so pleased that the community has embraced the site and made it a real part of how we gather together in this new millennium.”

The above is a joint news release jointly prepared by jewishinstlouis.org and the Jewish Light.