Hoarding and tossing

by Brian on December 4, 2022

in In the News,Just For Fun,Only in Israel

I have been reading – and writing for – The Jerusalem Post for nearly a third of the publication’s 90-year existence. I’ve also done something else that’s been less lucrative but for which I feel an irresistible compulsion: clipping articles of interest.

I’ve been clipping for longer than my relationship with the Post. Growing up, I used to cut out pieces from whatever newspaper I could get my hands on: the San Francisco Chronicle, where I grew up; the Cleveland Plain Dealer, where I went to college; various alternative and underground weeklies. I once saved an entire issue of the Bali Advertiser, following a vacation in Indonesia. 

But 50 years of compulsive clipping has come to an end. Well, the physical part at least. 

Now, when I find an article I think I might find valuable later, I copy the text or the web address into Evernote – and throw away the print version.

I still have boxes and boxes of clippings, though. Which is why I’ve been slowly – very slowly – going through my collection and tossing articles I either haven’t read in years or don’t have plans to ever read again. But, first, I write down the name of the article, its author and a URL if available; if I had the time and hard disk and space, I might have opted to painstakingly scan the actual articles.

Over the years, I’ve rationalized my newspaper hoarding. 

First, as a writer, you never know when you’ll find something relevant for a story you didn’t regard as noteworthy at the time. 

Second, it will be a great way for my children to learn more about their father, after I’m gone.

The pushback: Why burden your children with having to go through your stuff? Take care of it while you’re alive, a legion of professional de-clutterers emphasize. Even if it’s all entirely online, your descendants will still have to decide whether to pay the monthly cloud storage costs – or make the painful decision to delete the account forever.

Still, it’s not an entirely crazy idea. 

When my wife Jody’s father passed away earlier this year, she found a treasure trove of old letters the two of them wrote to each other during college. It’s been an eye-opener.

Now, I don’t expect my kids to care about business plans I wrote in the 1990s for companies that never took off, or technical specifications for building long-forgotten CD-ROM edutainment titles. 

But I do hope they won’t get rid of at least some of the more interesting clippings I’ve amassed. 

Among the discoveries in my many boxes of Post clippings:

Can the Smadar Theater in Jerusalem be saved from greedy developers? An article from 2008 by Peggy Cidor was bleak but the Smadar is still standing, 14 years later.

Are young families leaving Jerusalem? Gail Lichtman wrote in 2010 about how to keep these valuable city residents in town. (It’s a topic that, sadly, never gets stale.)

Larry Derfner wrote about disappointed political doves in “Still liberal after all these years.” (More things that haven’t changed.)

Lauren Gelfand interviewed Moshe Basson, the proprietor and head chef of Jerusalem’s Eucalyptus restaurant. Thirteen years later, I had the best kosher maqluba (an upside-down rice and lamb dish) I’ve ever tasted there. (You’ve still got it, Moshe.)

For a few years, I saved every one of Shlomo Brody’s “Ask the Rabbi” columns. Among the more memorable headlines: “Does Jewish law promote vegetarianism?” “Do demons exist?” “May one invite someone on Shabbat knowing they will drive?” and “Why are yeshiva students exempt from serving in the army?”

Can Orthodox women be rabbis? Haviva Ner David thinks so and wrote about it in the Post.

Why are religious Jews spitting on priests in Jerusalem’s Old City? That was the topic of a disturbing 2009 article, “Mouths filled with hatred.”

Stewart Weiss wondered whether the 2010 earthquake in Haiti was a sign from God. (Note to Stewart: nope.)

Hannah Brown covers movies and TV for the Post, but back in the early days of the Internet, she did a weekly round-up of the most interesting websites called “Couch Surfing.” I clipped a bunch of those, too. 

Naomi Ragen wrote about surviving the 2002 Passover massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya. That was at the height of the Second Intifada, and I found too many articles on the topic in my stash. Among them: a piece about a waiter stopping a suicide bomber at Jerusalem’s Caffit on Emek Refaim Street, and another about the Sbarro bombing. (I eventually suspended my terrorism clippings when it got too overwhelming.)

And yet there’s room for optimism: Saul Singer dubbed our fair city “Jerusalem of charisma” and declared he wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. (He’s still here.)

I didn’t just clip politics and lifestyle topics. I found a strong sprinkling of tech in my collection. 

Nicky Blackburn profiled Jerusalem startup, Versaware, which, at its height in 2000, employed 640 people. And Derfner wondered in 2008 whether we’re all living inside a high-tech bubble.

There were also articles on food, including quite a few of the Post’s annual sufganiothamantaschen and cheesecake-for-Shavuot reviews, which were delicious at the time, but no longer necessary to keep in hard copy.

I could go on – but then I’d fill the entire Magazine with my irrepressible nostalgia rather than focusing on lugubriously emptying more boxes.

In the meantime, I want to wish a happy 90th birthday to all my friends and colleagues at The Jerusalem Post.

This article originally appeared in The Jerusalem Post’s 90th anniversary Magazine.

Photo by Egor Vikhrev on Unsplash

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