Ya gotta love the Italians. While North American newspapers are struggling to survive and 5 major American magazines ceased publication last week alone, Italy has launched a monthly Jewish newspaper, to be sold on newsstands, essentially for non Jews! Banking on Italy's fascination with all things Jewish, Pagine Ebraiche is published by Italy's version of the Jewish Federation, but its aim is to link the Italian Jewish community with the wider Italian world. Rome, of course, is said to be home to the oldest continuously Jewish population outside of Israel.
The impetus behind them is the UCEI's desire to confront a seeming paradox: Italians are fascinated by things Jewish even though the country's 30,000 Jews comprise a tiny fraction of the population of 60 million.
"There is a huge interest in Jews and Jewish culture here," said Emanuele Ascarelli, who directs “Sorgente di Vita” (“Source of Life”), a biweekly Jewish television program co-produced by UCEI and state-run RAI television that draws 200,000 to 400,000 viewers. Ascarelli estimates that 90 to 95 percent of them are not Jewish.
Ascarelli says the new media initiatives reaching out to the non-Jewish world reflects a new self-confidence among Italian Jews.
Meanwhile, here in Atlanta, the state of Jewish publishing is absolutely dismal. The Atlanta Jewish Times has ceased to have an online presence and circulation under the new editor has plummeted. The Jewish Georgian, bless its heart, continues to publish.