My 11-year-old is getting his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine this morning. It is with profound gratitude that I write this sentence — and I know this sentiment is widely shared among our Kveller community.
We’ve all been through so much these past 20 months or so — what with the whole parenting-through-a-pandemic thing. But, if we’re being honest, things have been wacky in the world for a while now, even before phrases like “social distancing” and “viral load” became a part of our regular vocabulary.
I became the editor of Kveller in January, 2018, which, in many ways, feels like a lifetime ago. That month, the topics we were thinking and writing about included the one-year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration, food allergies, “The Sound of Music” and anything and everything about Amazon’s hot new show, “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”
Over the next few years, we accomplished and created so much: We launched our podcast, Call Your Mother, with the delightful Shannon Sarna and Jordana Horn; we made a short film, “Matriarchs,” about Jewish single-moms-by-choice; we published the incredible Kveller Haggadah (thanks to the amazing efforts of Gabi Birkner and Elissa Strauss) and its follow-up, the Kveller Shabbat Guide.
But that’s just the beginning: We published so many terrific pieces on a host of important subjects, from antisemitism to infertility to how to talk to your kids about race. We had a ton of fun, too: We helped you determine which “Shtisel” character you are, and we shared in the excitement when Disney introduced a Jewish princess.
No one could have predicted how drastically the world would change in the winter of 2020. As the coronavirus began to spread across the globe, Kveller was there from the beginning — we heard directly from a Jewish mom who lived in an early COVID-19 epicenter in the U.S., and we spoke with a Jewish family enduring a previously-unheard-of lockdown in Italy. We also provided tips on how to celebrate Passover during the pandemic — little did we know that we’d do it again the following year.
I’m incredibly proud of how our very small staff — which includes Deputy Managing Editor Lior Zaltzman and Editorial Assistant Maddy Albert — rose to meet this unprecedented moment. Throughout the pandemic, we hosted a bunch of topical live events and we published so many of-the-moment pieces; as a community, we addressed grief, anxiety, raising anti-racist Jewish kids and a Jewish mom’s experience with long COVID. (Of course, we found humor in the dark times, too, covering coronavirus-related parodies and other fun pop culture moments.)
And now, finally, with vaccines available for children ages 5 to 11 — talk about a “Shehechiyanu” moment! — it seems like we are turning a corner. Conversations are happening about COVID’s shift from pandemic to endemic status, and how or when it is appropriate to end mask mandates in school. Of course, there’s a larger backdrop of uncertainty, too, what with the climate crisis, an increasingly tense situation in the country’s public schools, and the looming 2024 election.
With so much in flux, it feels fitting that, professionally, I’m going through a bit of a transition as well. As of this week, I will no longer be the editor of Kveller. But I’m not going far: I am switching positions within the 70 Faces Media family and am starting a new role as the managing editor of the New York Jewish Week. We have many exciting plans to relaunch and remake this iconic publication, and I’m so excited to cover the city I’ve called home for 20-plus years. I can’t imagine a better time to don a “professional New Yorker” hat than now, as New York rebuilds and reimagines itself in a post-pandemic future.
There is so much I will miss about the amazing Kveller community — I’ve learned so much from so many of you, and it’s been an enormous pleasure to work with so many talented writers. (I’m also grateful for having a place to publish pieces about some of my personal obsessions, which include the Muppets, housing policy, the Beastie Boys and “Beverly Hills, 90210.”)
Moving forward, you are in extraordinarily capable hands: Kveller’s former editor from 2014-2017, Molly Tolsky, will once again be helming the team, and she’ll be aided by the lovely Lior Zaltzman with additional editorial support from Chloe Sarbib. (We’re also hiring for a brand-new position as Kveller’s audience engagement associate — get the details here!)
Of course, I am — and will forever be! — a Jewish mom, so I’m sure you’ll see me around Kveller from time to time, whether I’m chiming in on the Kveller Moms Facebook group or maybe even contributing the occasional article (I hope). If you’d like to get in touch with me — or you have tips or story ideas about anything related to Jewish life, news and culture in NYC — feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m also trying my hand at Twitter — I literally *just* joined this weekend — so please follow me there at @iamlisakeys.
Thank you, Kvellers, for an incredible (almost) four years. It’s been an honor. Keep on kvelling!