The American Israelite, America’s oldest Jewish weekly newspaper, debuts on a new platform on Friday, July 31, 2020, when the first seven episodes of Let There Be Light—The American Israelite Newspaper Podcast launch. It is now available on all major podcast platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Pandora, Tuneln + Alexa, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, Deezer, Listen Notes, Overcast, Pocket Cast, and Castro. It is also available on lettherebelightpodcast dot com. A new episode of the podcast will become available every Friday.
“Let There Be Light” has been the motto of The American Israelite since it was founded by Rabbi Isaac Mayer Wise in Cincinnati on July 15, 1854; The Israelite (as it was originally called) has always featured not only local news about and of interest to the Jewish community, but also regional, national, Israel and international news.
On the podcast, the hosts Netanel “Ted” Deutsch, publisher of The American Israelite since 1998 and Julie B. Bernsen Brook, whose middle name really is Babs, self-declared Domestic Goddess, present overviews and personal insights into articles of the week from The American Israelite. In addition to talking about the top stories of the week, Deutsch and Brook, who are longtime friends, feature “From the Pages,” The Israelite’s popular column of short snippets from previous issues from its 167 year history.
The hosts are a study in contrasts. Deutsch is a lifelong resident of Cincinnati and fifth generation Cincinnatian: born at Jewish Hospital to Ted, Jr. and Josephine Deutsch, and student at North Avondale Elementary School and Walnut Hills High School, where he graduated in 1976. He then entered Ohio University and was a founding brother of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, graduating in 1980 with a degree in psychology and a minor in political science.
Deutsch has been involved in publishing since graduation; he took over his father’s company, Key Magazine, after his father’s death, and has published or worked for Cincinnati Bride and Groom (which he founded), and playbills for many Cincinnati cultural institutions—Playhouse in the Park, the Taft Theater, WNOP Jazzfest—as well as the Cincinnati Bar Association Report.
In 1998 Deutsch bought The American Israelite, and sold Key Magazine to his brother Michael. His vision of bringing The American Israelite into the modern age has been long and rewarding. He established many firsts with The Israelite under his guidance. The American Israelite newspaper’s website has been growing ever since going live. It continues to grow monthly and had reached nearly two million hits and twenty-five thousand unique visitors in June 2020, the last month for which statistics are available.
Deutsch has served on many boards in the Cincinnati area: Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Jewish Community Center, Jewish National Fund, Golf Manor Synagogue and Sha’arei Torah Synagogue. He is a member of the Eastern Division of the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, in which he is currently Flotilla Diversity Officer, and a Vessel Examiner. He has served as a Flotilla Commander and Vice Division Commander. He is married to Stephanie Deutsch and the father of Rachel Deutsch. In his free time he is a disc golfer, golfer and kayaker.
Brook, in contrast, was born and raised in Chicago to two first generation Ashkenazi American Jews, Sheldon Bernsen and Adrienne Gloria Skookie Katz Bernsen, who had also both grown up in that city; she was “dragged kicking and screaming”, as she puts it, to Cincinnati by her husband Barry Allen Brook, MD, thirty-four years ago when he began work at Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati.
Brook left her high school (Highland Park High School, Illinois) a semester early—against the advice of her guidance counselor, Mrs. Levitan, who exclaimed, “You’re much too immature to attend college!” That’s exactly what Brook did, however, and had, on her mother’s advice, “the best four years of her life” at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she was a member of Delta Phi Epsilon sorority and graduated with a BA in Urban Planning. Several years later, she furthered her education by earning an MBA in Finance and HRM at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
In contrast to Deutsch’s lifelong career in publishing, Brook has held a wide variety of paid and volunteer positions, beginning as a real estate underwriter for a number of large investment firms in Chicago, and including, since moving to Cincinnati, substitute teacher at Yavneh Day School, Challahback Girl Challah baker, Board member of the City of Blue Ash Sites Arrangements and Zoning Appeals Boards, Executive Co-Chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party and Office Manager/Bookkeeper/Jack-of-All-Trades at The American Israelite. In addition to writing the “Let There Be Light” column for The American Israelite, which researches timely topics such as the flu pandemic of 1918-1920 in the archives of The American Israelite, and expands on some of the short snippets in From the Pages, Brook does marketing, website and social media for her sister Susie Gutheim’s upscale boutique Over The Top in Highland Park.
Brook has three children, Loren Phillip Brook, Melissa Joy Brook Zimmerman, and Daniel Louis Brook, all MDs or Md/PhD candidates, and all married; she also has a dog, Isabella Zahava Hiawatha Pocahontas Indian Princess Brook. The Brooks are members of Adath Israel Congregation. In her spare time Brook runs, takes exercise classes, does yoga, hikes, walks and bakes a lot; she loves to travel, especially taking cruises and has been to Israel multiple times. When walking her dog she listens to the daily Daf Yomi and in the evening enjoys reading.
The idea for The American Israelite-Let There Be Light Newspaper Podcast came from Brook’s participation in the episode 213 of the “Unorthodox” podcast that was taped in Cincinnati in November 2019 and released in February 2020. Sponsorships for The American Israelite podcast are available; contact information is on the website. Sponsors are also featured on other social media platforms such as Instagram. Some episodes will also feature guests. Deutsch expects the podcast to “take off like the website, which has become very popular.”
Brook said, “We decide to title the podcast ‘Let There Be Light’ because it’s the theme of The American Israelite and because we will be bring to ‘light’ the stories Israelite readers read each week. About once a month I will highlight some of what we learn on my podcast companion column also titled ‘Let There Be Light’. For instance, I researched the story of Lieutenant E. Gordon Block who went missing in Belgium. I’ve located his living relatives, found out his personal history and plan to share with readers what I’ve learned in the “Let There Be Light” column during the coming months. And just this week we learned that Camp Livingston’s history dates back to the H1N1 pandemic of 1918, when Mr. H. S. Livingston purchased the Remington Vacation Camp in what’s now Indian Hill in memory of his son Lieutenant Robert Krohn Livingston who died of the virus in Fort Oglethorpe. With that realization I feel that both Ted and I took a pause to think how tragic things were then and now. Of course, Ted and I both gabbed on about how Camp Livingston is one of Jewish Cincinnati’s gems. I know that my husband’s father, Leon and Leon’s brother Marvin, who I’ve mentioned in my column, both attended Livingston in Indian Hill. Subsequently, Ted and his daughter and my three children enjoyed many years of camping in it's current home in Bennington, Indiana. This is a perfect example of how our listeners can learn more about Jewish Cincinnati from historical, social and personal histories.
“Let There Be Light—The American Israelite Newspaper Podcast” expands America’s oldest Jewish weekly into a new platform, available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, iHeart Radio, Pandora, Tuneln + Alexa, Podcast Addict, Podchaser, Deezer, Listen Notes, Overcast, Pocket Cast, and Castro.
“I hope that listeners will gain a deeper love for The American Israelite, the history of the paper, its importance to Jewish Cincinnati and come to understand that our history is what makes us who we are today. I’m truly enjoying working with Ted and I hope we can learn to develop ‘Let There Be Light’ into a podcast that Jewish and non-Jewish Cincinnati looks forward to listening to on a weekly basis.”
Deutsch said, “We’re rookies at this, and we made a few mistakes along the way if you listen to our first few podcasts, but we’re getting better. One of the main points is that we have fun; we have fun doing the podcast, we enjoy being the hosts, and we want you to have fun listening to it.”