BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Southern Jewish Life magazine, which has covered the Jewish communities of the Deep South for over three decades, announced that it will be expanding with a new online edition covering the rest of the South.
Starting with August 2023, Southern Jewish Life Regional will be an online edition of SJL that covers the region from Virginia and Kentucky in the north, to East Texas in the west, the Carolinas and Georgia in the east, and northern Florida to the South — North Florida, but the part of Florida that is Southern. It will be available by subscription, and there will also be an option to access individual issues online.
“For years, people have asked us when we will start covering North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas and the like,” said Publisher/Editor Larry Brook. “We had always envisioned this as a region-wide publication, but changes in the industry changed the vision. Now, with the regional edition as an online entity by subscription, we can offer the magazine to more communities, and undertake a broader range of stories.”
The online version is also meant to supplement the monthly print editions in the previous core coverage area of Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and the Florida panhandle. The Deep South and New Orleans versions will continue to be mailed to the communities in those areas, and readers in those areas will be encouraged to also subscribe to the regional edition, which will contain additional content not found in the print version.
Brook began the publication in Birmingham in 1990 as The Southern Shofar, a monthly newspaper serving all of Alabama. In 1999, Mississippi was added and the name was changed to Deep South Jewish Voice. The Florida panhandle was added soon thereafter, and after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the publication stepped in to serve the Louisiana Jewish community and has been the community’s Jewish news source ever since.
In 2009, with international news widely available online, the emphasis became exclusively original local content that can’t be found elsewhere, with the publication changing to a full-color magazine format and becoming Southern Jewish Life.
“The mission of Southern Jewish Life has always been to take the small Jewish communities scattered throughout the South and create a sense of a larger community,” Brook said. “We have found an almost endless supply of interesting stories in our coverage area, and know there are a lot more to be told in our new areas.”
The publication has received over two dozen national Simon J. Rockower Awards for excellence in Jewish journalism from the American Jewish Press Association, reflecting the magazine’s goal of providing the smaller communities with a large-community quality publication.
While many smaller Jewish publications in the country are subsidized or owned by their local Jewish Federations, Southern Jewish Life has been independent from the beginning. Many communities that will be included in the regional edition of Southern Jewish Life have Federation papers, but Brook said SJL has no interest in replacing those newspapers.
“We won’t be doing the routine happenings of the local congregations, organizations and institutions like those local papers can,” Brook said. “We will be focusing on more region-wide pieces that they aren’t doing. Furthermore, Federation papers have a very different content parameter from independent publications, so there is a lot we will do that they, for various reasons, can’t do.”
In covering Southern Jewish communities, Southern Jewish Life works to educate the non-Jewish majority in the region about their Jewish neighbors, and to inform the rest of the Jewish world about a Jewish experience that is vastly different than New York or California.
There are also plans to launch Israel InSight, a new magazine for Christian supporters of Israel, this summer.
Subscription information for Southern Jewish Life Regional is available here.