‘Golden’ thoughts on Jewish Light staff members through the years

Then-Jewish Light Publisher Robert A. Cohn (right) works with Advertising Manager Buddy Goldstein (left)and associate editors Carol Lundgren and Meg Crane at the Light’s old office in the Railway Exchange Building.  

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Everyone associated with the St. Louis Jewish Light is still basking in the afterglow of the Oct. 6 Golden Gala at the Ritz Carlton, which celebrated 50 years of the paper as an autonomous community newspaper. The Gala honored the Light’s past board presidents with a look-back at the accomplishments of five decades and ahead to what we hope will be its “Golden Future.” 

Personally, I was overwhelmed by the event and deeply grateful that Lois Caplan, our columnist for the past 50 years, and I were also honored for our service to the Light. Space does not permit me to thank all of my friends who made donations to the Light in my honor, funds that will help assure the future of our community newspaper into the decades ahead.

A number of former Light staffers were present at the Gala, including Carol Lundgren and Linda Mantle, former executive editors; Carol Solomon and Barbara Langsam Shuman, former associate editors (and Shuman, also a past board president) and Peggy Northcott, former business manager. Thankfully, I have remained close friends with all of them, as well as many others in the years that followed them leaving the paper to pursue other interests. 

When I first started at the Light on July 1, 1969, the “big boss” of the professional staff was the late Morris Silverman, who was our general manager, in charge of all aspects of the publication.  Also on staff at the time were the late Sheldon Suroff, assistant editor, who later served as an active board member of the paper; a sales staff that included Buddy Goldstein, Bobbi Linkemer and Mimi Kaskowitz, and a terrific receptionist, Carolyn Short.  We were all crammed into a tiny office in the Railway Exchange Building downtown.

The summer of 1969 was known as the “Summer of Love,” with the Woodstock music festival taking place and men walking on the moon for the first time.  I must confess that I thought a few times, “There are people my age reveling in the bacchanalia of Woodstock and men on the moon while I am here as editor of a small Midwestern Jewish newspaper, a kind of Jewish Clark Kent.” I took the job as a two-year steppingstone towards a career in public relations, law or politics. Some 44 years later, I am still at the Light, and still loving it!

One of the principal reasons I have chosen to stay for so many years has been the close relationship I have enjoyed with my professional colleagues, past and present. Indeed, it is a pleasure as well as a privilege to work Publisher/CEO Larry Levin, Editor Ellen Futterman and the entire current professional team at the Light

In addition to those mentioned above, I want to especially express renewed appreciation to Buddy Goldstein, the former longtime advertising manager of the Light.  In 1970, he and I were summoned into the boardroom of the Federation offices where board president Melvin Newmark announced that effective immediately, I was promoted to the position of editor-in-chief and Goldstein to the position of advertising manager.  Buddy and I exchanged glances of amazement and concern.  Our promotions followed the untimely death of Morris Silverman in October of that year, who suffered a fatal heart attack. How could we possibly fill the shoes of Morris, who was the Light’s Rock of Gibraltar? He did everything for the paper. 

Buddy and I did the best we could to soldier on, and had the strong support of the board of directors, our then Business Committee chair Buzzie Schukar, and of course, our professional colleagues on the staff.

Buddy and I worked together for 33 years until his retirement.  We used to joke that we would always “pencil in” our first “fight” for next week—fights that never occurred.  To be sure we disagreed from time-to-time on given issues, but we never carried a grudge or turned a difference of opinion into a breach in a wonderful collegial relationship and lasting friendship.

I would like to add another shout-out to another long term colleague and friend, the late and beloved Burton Dobinsky, who was our Jewish Light editorial cartoonist from our very first year as an independent paper, 1963, until he retired in 2007.

I wish I had sufficient space to list each and every professional staffer, past and present, with whom I have worked at the Light but space limitations make that impossible.  Let me say that I am tremendously grateful to each and every one of you who have made working at the paper an enduring and priceless treasure. Here’s to another 50 great years.