SALEM — When Barbara Schneider became publisher of the Jewish Journal on October 1, 2005, the Marblehead resident was already a familiar face in the local Jewish community. A member of Temple Emanu-El in Marblehead, she has served on the boards of the Jewish Federation of the North Shore (JFNS), the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston and the Jewish Community Center of North Shore, where she was president for two years, as well as president of the Women’s Division of the JFNS. Nearly ten years later, as she prepares to retire on May 7, she looks back on the past decade with satisfaction as she reflects on her biggest accomplishments and challenges as publisher. (Read her Publisher’s Farewell Column.)
“I am proudest of transforming the Journal’s appearance to a modern look; partnering with the Forward so we could offer a more enhanced web experience; and engaging more readers as evidenced by increased numbers and amounts of donations and frequency of letters to the editor,” she said. Working with the board and staff to creatively problem solve was her favorite part of the often challenging position. Admired widely for her grace under fire and infectious smile, Schneider earned a reputation as a percolator of ideas.
Her most difficult task was meeting payroll in an environment of shrinking sales.
Susan Jacobs, who spent twelve years at the Journal, including four as editor, remembered when Schneider came on board as publisher. “Barbara was the perfect choice. She is one of those people who is all about community; that’s what drives her. She took the helm at a time when print journalism was dying and kept the paper alive. She was a mentor to me and a partner,” Jacobs said.
Lisa Kosan, president of the Journal Board of Overseers, agreed. “Barbara has been a tireless advocate for the Journal and for programs that connect the Jewish community. Any day of the week you can find her at a Jewish book club meeting, Israeli advocacy event or synagogue event,” she said.
Schneider is equally well-known for her strong and vocal support for Israel. “Barbara always reminded me of Golda Meir,” said Jacobs. “She was a fierce defender of Israel and the paper always reflected that position. She has that same power and charisma; when she speaks, people listen.”
Philanthropist Robert Lappin has known Schneider for decades. “Barbara has an open mind. She’s been a wonderful publisher and a true asset to the entire community,” he said.
Schneider was one of the first people Rabbi Yossi and Layah Kranz Lipsker of Chabad of the North Shore in Swampscott met when they moved to Swampscott 23 years ago. “She was a leader in the community and an inspiration to us. Barbara is a woman of integrity and substance, who always does the right thing, even when it’s unpopular,” Rabbi Yossi said. “She is like a Bubbe to our children and part of our family.
Barbara is often the first person we call when we need advice, both personal and professional,” Layah added.
Although she is not sure what the first thing is she will do during her retirement (“Clean my car,” she joked), one thing is certain: she will find a way to continue contributing to the Jewish community she holds so dear. “Volunteering has been my life,” she said.
She leaves the Journal in good hands. Joshua Resnek, co-founder of the Independent Newspaper Group, will take over as publisher on May 4. The Lynn resident brings a loyalty to the Jewish community and commitment to Jewish humanism, intelligence and honor to the position. Asked what advice she would offer Resnek, Schneider said, “Do not be afraid to jump out of the box to keep the Jewish community informed. And I will pass on the advice given to me by the great Selma Williams [Journal Life Board Member]: ‘If you are being attacked from both the right and the left, you are doing your job well.’”