Signing off from the JC after half-a-century
Outgoing Jewish Chronicle managing director Alan Rubenstein steps down this month after almost 50 years with the company but will retain an involvement as the JC’S honorary president. Here, in his own words, he looks back on his decades of service
I HAVE been married to the JC for longer than to my wife, Beryl. But after almost 50 years, it is time to pass the baton over.
When I joined in 1962 as a junior advertising representative, it seemed even then an amazing place to work. My boss was the ebullient Tony Mandelson, father of Peter. We had the most incredible relationship. He taught me to use my personality to sell space and never to accept no for an answer. Between us, we turned the JC into a very profitable newspaper.
As I moved through the ranks to become sales manager, advertising director, commercial director and finally managing director, I worked with some wonderful people.
During my time on the board I was privileged to work with ex-chairman Peter Oppenheimer, the only man I know who could conduct a meeting while eating a bagel, marking economics exam papers and having a phone conversation in Russian with a colleague in Uzbekistan.
The advice and encouragement of Lionel Gordon, Jeffrey Greenwood (who does a brilliant job as chairman of the JC pension trustees), Peter Levy, Richard Bolchover, Danny Kessler and Julia Chain has meant so much to me.
All my editors have been great fun, bearing in mind the natural creative tensions between editorial and sales. William Frankel was urbane, silky smooth and immaculately dressed. He never once raised his voice. He just gave you a look which said everything.
Geoffrey Paul was the consummate professional, a warm lovely gentleman who regularly threw me out of his office, but always with a smile on his face.
Ned Temko was the crazy American with whom I ate cake and chocolate and always had a glass or two of wine. He made me laugh, cry and scream, all in a matter of minutes.
And Stephen Pollard, our current editor, whom I greatly admire, has turned the paper into one of the best weeklies around. We do not always see eye to eye but probably are not meant to.
To succeed in the advertising business, you need reliable, dependable colleagues and over these 50 years I have had many. But the relationship I had with Geoffrey Gilbert and Brian Kyte has been something I will always treasure.
Above all, though, without Beryl’s help, encouragement and incredible patience I simply could not have managed.
Back in November 1967, when the JC launched our very first colour magazine, the party at the Savoy Hotel coincided with the birth of our son. Beryl always manages to remind me that I still went to the launch!
When Sidney Moss (managing director in the 1970s) sent me off to Israel to “try and sell a bit of space”, I never anticipated how successfully it would work out.
It is a terrific buzz even now to see ads from all the leading hotel groups, together with real estate businesses, universities, and so many other parts of Israeli life.
My job has allowed me to meet so many people both here and in Israel. Talking for over an hour about the JC to Yitzhak Rabin remains a highlight. Having lunch with the late King Hussein of Jordan another, along with dinner with Teddy Kollek in Jerusalem, listening to his enthusiasm about his beloved city.
I have made friends with so many of the leaders of our community and never cease to be amazed at the time and effort people put back into the community. I will mention just three — Jeffrey Pinnick, Peter Sheldon and Benjamin Perl. In his quiet unassuming way, Jeffrey has for over 40 years given his time and experience to the Board of Deputies, Yad Vashem and Boys Town. Peter, always on the go, revitalised the United Synagogue and always has a project he wants to speak to me about.
As for Benjamin, I have five grandchildren at Jewish schools. Where would our kids be today if it wasn’t for Mr Jewish Education?
My speaking engagements, which I hope to continue, have given me (and, I hope, my audiences) terrific pleasure.
I made a promise to David Kessler, whose family today are among our shareholders, that I would not depart until the business was in good hands. With Anthony Julius as chairman, Daniel Finkelstein, Paul Mann and Michael Marx on the board, Tracy Abrahams as CEO and Stephen Pollard as editor, it is indeed. I wish Tracy the very best of luck. And I am delighted that I will still have a role to play in the JC’s success.
I feel incredibly proud and privileged to have been part of a jewel in our community’s crown.
The JC is the best Jewish newspaper in the English speaking world.
Alan Rubenstein: “I have worked with some wonderful people”