| Magazine Feature |

Strength in Numbers  

It’s a Mishpacha milestone, 1,000 issues week in and week out

It’s a Mishpacha milestone, 1,000 issues week in and week out. News, opinion, stories, features, recipes, entertainment and inspiration — it’s all there in your weekly package. Mark the occasion along with us, with a celebration of all things 1,000


Much More than a Magazine

On the eve of Mishpacha’s 1,000th issue, we challenged 10 editors and writers to share what Mishpacha means to them, beyond printed words on paper. The challenge: write about it in 100 words each; 1,000 words for our 1,000th magazine. Here we present you with an ode to Mishpacha in exactly 1,000 Words

Mishpacha is... a bridge

Bassi Gruen, former managing editor of Family First

She approached between the first dance and dessert, a stranger with a warm smile.

“You’re Bassi Gruen?”

I nodded.

“I love your letters. I got such chizuk from that story about your son…” and she launched into a detailed recounting of an incident I barely remembered.

Then she related how touched she’d been when I’d quoted something from her grandfather’s sefer — a sefer she hadn’t known he’d written. She’d shared it with her extended family.

It was scary to have a stranger remember bits of my life better than I did. And also touching. We really are all one mishpachah.


Mishpacha is... the good in us

Yisroel Besser, Deputy Editor

I was writing about the tzaddikim at Relief Resources, and one of them shared something intriguing.

He said that when Mishpacha highlights a mental or emotional disorder, on Monday morning, their intake team hears from scores of people worried that they have this condition, insistent that they have the very symptoms they read about.

I repeated this to a wise rav who also found it fascinating — for a different reason.

“If the magazine has the power to influence people to think there is something wrong with them,” he said, “imagine the responsibility to tell people what is right with them!”


Mishpacha is... a miracle

Rachel Ginsberg, Associate Editor

I became an editor in the fall of 2007 and felt honored to be part of the Yom Tov Pesach team a few months later. The late nights, the adrenaline rush — we did it! Half a year later, after closing the Succos package, I had this niggling feeling that it was way more than us, and by the following Pesach, I knew.

When publisher Eli Paley congratulated us on another super Yom Tov package, I told him, “Eli, you need to thank Hashem ten times a day, because your amazing staff notwithstanding, this is totally siyata d’Shmaya.”

It still is.


Mishpacha is... responsible

Binyamin Rose, Editor at Large

“He’s insane.”

That’s one quote you never read in a profile we ran on Hugo Chávez, the late dictator of Venezuela.

That’s because I deleted it while editing the raw text of Mishpacha’s Hebrew-language article on Chávez. The quote was accurate — from a Jewish aide close to Chávez. I feared it would go viral, and if Chávez saw it, we could be jeopardizing the lives or welfare of Venezuela’s Jewish community of 25,000 who were trying to flee to safer lands.

Sensational or colorful quotes make for good reading, but once printed, you can’t ever take them back.

Responsibility matters.


Mishpacha is… a unifier

Barbara Bensoussan, Contributing Editor

AS writers, we send our words out not knowing who will read them or what impact they’ll have. I once wrote a feature about Mrs. Itu Lustig, a Holocaust survivor who moved to Crown Heights, becoming active in Bikur Cholim, and the matriarch of a large, distinguished family.

After the article was published, a reader from Australia contacted Mishpacha.

“My mother and Itu were close friends when they were girls, but my mother had no idea she was alive!” she said. “Can you please help us get in touch?”

Almost 75 years later, two friends joyously found each other again.


Mishpacha is… an influencer

Eytan Kobre, Contributing Editor

NO one would mistake today’s frum magazines for Torah journals like Jewish Observer. But does that mean they’re only entertainment, kosher replacements for Newsweek… or People?

Mishpacha’s impact became apparent early on, after I wrote in my column about the phenomenon of Nine Days’ “siyum barbeques.”

A reader thanked me for helping clarify her thinking.

Every summer, these Nine Days barbeques trouble me, but I could never explain what I felt until I read what you wrote, she wrote.

Helping others achieve hashkafic clarity in these confusing times is a writer’s priceless privilege and joy — and not an inconsiderable responsibility, either.


Mishpacha is… fun

Rachel Bachrach, Deputy Editor

One evening, I joined a Zoom meeting with 1,500 boys.

Why are you on NSA my phone buzzed; an eagle-eyed cousin had spotted us.

In my defense, I was on Night Seder America’s virtual Covid learning program to observe. Boots-on-the-ground reporting — a must for a scene-setting writer — is time-consuming (I studied countless episodes), but watching someone in his element is fun.

Since I’ve taken a more editorial role, it’s become a vicarious experience; when writers travel as far as Kolkata or as close as Lakewood’s bein hasedorim shoe store, I’m with them in the thick of it, having a blast!


Mishpacha is… a lifesaver

Shmuel Botnick, Contributing Editor

Shortly after featuring psychologist Dr. Shmuel Mandelman, I mentioned the article in shul in an after-Maariv conversation.

A fellow nearby overheard and interjected, “Did you say Shmuel Mandelman?”

I nodded.

“My neighbor’s son is struggling terribly,” he said. “They were told Dr. Mandelman can help, but they don’t know how to reach him.”

I pulled out my phone, dialed Dr. Mandelman, and handed it to this fellow.

Later that week, Dr. Mandelman called me.

“I met the kid and got him in with a therapist,” he said. “Last I heard, things are going well.”

A single article. A salvaged future.


Mishpacha is… the grown-up in the room

Gedalia Guttentag, Deputy Editor

I sometimes feel like a mobile lightning rod, a conduit for any complaints about the Orthodox media in general that happen to be crackling through the vicinity.

“How could you have written X, or Y?” goes the refrain — and half the time it turns out that it was someone else.

Why is Mishpacha a catch-all in this way? Because more often than not, if a serious communal conversation has to be had, or there’s a responsible, grown-up line to be taken, it happens in these pages. With a modicum of power, to coin a phrase, comes the likelihood of interchangeability.


Mishpacha is… just like you

Bracha Stein and Chani Judowitz, creators of the Kichels comic

“WEare the Kichels.”

It’s the feedback we get most often.

We never anticipated that our harebrained experiment would become something larger — yet so many readers identify with this cartoon family, its mishaps and foibles. (It’s definitely only readers who relate; our own households are extremely perfect.)

There’s a relief in discovering that we’re all the same — we all forget the aquarium’s hours on Chol Hamoed, treif up our pareve knives, share the same fears, worries, and goals.

And that sense of relief, connection, of brotherhood echoes Mishpacha’s larger purpose and virtual embrace. You know me; I’m just like you.



They say a picture is worth a thousand words. The 1,000 editions of Mishpacha hold reams, even volumes, of words — opinion columns, investigative features, inspirational stories, absorbing serials, even humor. But often it’s the images that gave those words color and vibrancy.

You should never judge a book by its cover — and readers of Mishpacha know that this weekly “book” will deliver so much more than its cover can promise. Still, that front-and-center visual tells a powerful and important story.

Over the course of producing 1,000 issues, the magazine developed and changed. As the years marched on and tastes and fashions changed, the covers changed, too. Different years saw different fonts, graphic styles, and presentations. But a strong cover will keep telling its story years later.

With 1,000 issues to choose from, which covers still carry enduring impact? We searched through our archives to find those images that speak louder than 1,000 words ever could — and curated a selection of covers that attest to that power.


Issue 12

In June 2004, history was happening. The borders of the state of Israel were shifting before our eyes, as Ariel Sharon planned a unilateral disengagement from Gush Katif. In this early issue of Mishpacha, the editors chose to focus on the soon-to-be-abandoned shuls and yeshivos. A chareidi weekly can and should discuss politics, but its focus is rightly on the bastions of religious life. Sadly enough, it’s close to 20 years later, and our eyes are once again fixed on the same region.


Issue 30

“Breaks in the Chain” was the cover text for Mishpacha’s first discussion of a painful social issue: the agunah crisis. It marked the magazine’s identity as not just an entertainment medium, but a forum for serious and at times raw discussion as well.



Issue 169

In August of 2007, frum society was still forming its opinions about the Internet. Could you realistically keep it out of your life? Could you hold down a job in the modern business world and function without it? Would it soon overtake shopping, banking, and even health? And if so — how could a frum Jew erect healthy boundaries? The goalposts may have moved since this cover story was published, but the underlying issues are still as relevant as ever.


Issue 235

“Grinding to a Halt” was the sad cover text accompanying a photo of the sign welcoming visitors to Postville, with a menorah astride the street light. At this early junction, the Agri story was just beginning, and the feature focused on the town’s frum residents whose lives and livelihoods were just beginning to crumble. We couldn’t have known back then that the Rubashkin saga would capture so many headlines and hearts for so many years.


Issue 330

“Hanging on by a Fringe” was one of those covers that married text and visuals with perfect synchronicity. The accompanying story — about dropouts to frumkeit who aren’t angry or abused, just empty — was viewed as bold and disturbing by many readers, on-target and welcome by others.


Issue 349

One of Mishpacha’s aims has always been to celebrate our people’s true heroes, and the 25th yahrtzeits of Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky ztz”l was the chance to devote an entire magazine to memorializing these giants of American Jewry. As we built the plans for this special edition, we wondered whether readers would miss the usual “mix” of material we publish. But we needn’t have worried: Even today, readers tell us that they’re still holding on to this special issue.

Issue 375

The ten-year anniversary of 9/11 called for a special edition, with a collection of news analysis and human-interest features about the day that changed America’s self-perception as an impenetrable superpower, the place where terror attacks “just don’t happen.” It took some time scouring through archive photos to find an image that conveyed that sense of utter destruction and fragility, but when we found this one, we knew it was right.


Issue 463

In 2013, a poisonous and powerful campaign targeted virtually every aspect of chareidi life as an unjust strain on the fabric and finances of Israeli society. We spent weeks building a magazine that would tackle each of those claims one by one, by providing readers with facts, context, and real answers. The cover concept was a collage of the different faces and images swirling in the public consciousness, along with cover lines that also served as an invitation: “One nation, one burden — let’s talk straight.”

Issue 473

Love it or hate it, you couldn’t ignore the cover of Issue 473, which used a shawl-wrapped doll to present a cover story on the “shawl ladies” who have taken tzniyus to what many see as extreme degrees. The article shared the inner lives and motivations of these shawl-clad women, along with many voices for and against their practices. And the readers’ takes filled our Inbox for many weeks to follow.


Issue 500

Anyone who follows Israeli news, specifically news about chareidim in Israel, is accustomed to seeing those photos we mentally categorize as “the mass of black” — a crowd of nameless, faceless figures in black suits and hats. In that sense, the cover image wasn’t unique. What made this cover stand out was the bold text. While Mishpacha often aims for nuance, this particular situation was black and white: certain politicians were calling to pass legislation that would effectively criminalize Torah learning, the lifeblood of our nation and pillar upholding the entire world.

Issue 502

When Issue 502 went to print, many readers had heard about a shadowy group called Lev Tahor, but they weren’t yet familiar with the details surrounding its ideology, behavior, and leadership. This piece, which went through many layers of review and revisions before it was approved for print, unearthed a wealth of information about the group — but the overall vibe was still one of mystery and secrecy. The dramatic monochrome cover montage reflects that shadowy reputation, punctuated by increasingly urgent questions.

The Boys Who Brought Us Back Together

This was the last-minute supplement we didn’t want to publish. For 18 days, Jews around the world united in tefillos and kabbalos for the safe return of three teens who’d gone missing on their way home from yeshivah. When their lifeless bodies were found in a hastily dug grave, all those hopes were dashed. Usually a single image tells the most powerful story, but sometimes a collage can relay a bigger picture of the ripple effects. Most telling was the text, which remains the legacy of the three lost boys.

Issue 574

Issue 574 hits the newsstands right at the end of the summer, when eager children are packing up their knapsacks with sharpened pencils and spanking new notebooks. But our cover story focused on those children who still hadn’t been placed in schools — a worrying trend whose cost is tallied in neshamos. Usually, the chalk-and-blackboard theme carries a lighthearted vibe. Here, the blithe text with its stark message of exclusion punches you in the gut.


Issue 584

If Mishpacha has an overarching aim, it’s to publicly celebrate the beauty of Yiddishkeit. And if there’s a role we aspire to, it’s that of unifier. But emes comes before unity, and when a movement that calls itself Orthodox corrupted our halachic and hashkafic principles, we devoted a cover story to a serious discussion of the issue, featuring three concerned rabbanim who articulated where the movement diverges from our mesorah, and why that should worry us all.

Issue 644

Donald Trump made many promises on the campaign trail. The common denominator was a promise to topple Obama’s legacy. To mark Trump’s inauguration, we challenged our news writers to analyze each of those promises and evaluate how feasible it really was — and we challenged a staff illustrator to depict the triumphant Trump bulldozing Obama’s tower of influence. He took that assignment literally, filling each stone in the tower with another item of Obama’s signature legislation.

Issue 733

As a weekly magazine, it’s not our mandate to report news as it happens. Instead, we try to offer a new layer of analysis or insight. This cover ran after a shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Our feature focused not only on the facts of the attack, but also on the bigger story — what does this mean for Jews who gather to daven? The cover imagery utilized universal symbols, rather than a specific building, in keeping with that focus.

Issue 749

We’re still getting letters about the subject of parental alienation, from readers who live with the terrible results of this phenomenon. Back when we ran this feature, we looked for a way to depict the pain that comes with intentionally induced distance. The text mirrors the visual — with the abyss separating a parent from a sobbing child.


Issue 750

Issue 750 was a special theme edition that supplied readers with multiple perspectives, tools, and resources for the ben Torah who wishes to retain his values and identity after entering the modern workplace. We wanted a unified look for the entire project, and asked a staff photographer to conduct a multi-staged photo shoot, following a frum working man through the various stops of his day. This shot, taken right at the start of the busy shoot, encompassed the project, with its sense of looking toward the unknown.

Issue 793

For the magazine  cover depicting the Siyum HaShas, we looked for a photo that would recapture the feeling experienced by everyone there: that sense of being a small but consequential part of something massively significant. This wide-lens photo  captured that magic — and the text captured the never-ending mandate of daf yomi.


Issue 803

This was our first “Covid cover” — the first of many, unfortunately, to come. The lockdown era was just beginning and our webs of social connection were about to be severely tested. We built a montage of the faces and images most associated with Covid at that time, and drafted text that was a call for unity as much as a prayer.


Issue 834

With US elections on Tuesday and our print deadline on Monday night, we had very limited time to compile election coverage, even with an extended deadline. So we prepared two magazine covers and two packages — one for a Trump win, one for a Biden victory — with the finer details to be filled out as poll results came in. But as our deadline ticked closer, there was still no definitive result. If we waited any longer, the magazines wouldn’t make it to the stores in time for Shabbos. So much for all our advance planning; we quickly drafted yet a third cover, with the text reading “Fighting Past the Finish.” We couldn’t have known that the fight would extend long past Shabbos, but it was a good call.

Issue 844

Sometimes it’s that one image that tells the story — no illustration, graphic concept, or brainstorming necessary. Our coverage of the events of January 6, 2021, was custom built for a thinking frum readership, with probing hashkafic guidance and forward-thinking analysis. The writers and editors thought and rethought every element — there were even some last-minute changes in word choice moments before a piece was sent to print. But this time, choosing a cover visual was simple.

Issue 859

The magazine memorializing the kedoshei Meron was one of the most difficult editions we ever had to plan, write, edit, and print. The cover was equally challenging. We didn’t want any sensationalist or graphic images. We didn’t to compound the pain of the bereaved families. We wanted to convey that this was a global loss as much as it was the loss of so many special, beloved individuals. And we wanted to include some visual cue that this was about Meron. It took many tries and much tefillah to get this final image, but everyone who saw it felt it was right.

Issue 945

This cover started with two concepts: a girl waiting, and a sea splitting. It took talent and effort to combine the two, but when we saw the composite image, it had deep emotional resonance. The style is not a caricature — it’s soft and serious — but it’s not quite realistic either (no one looks out their window and sees a multicolored sea splitting before their eyes). But somehow that hit the perfect note for a story about new hope.


Issue 981

When our team came in to work after October 7, the full scope of destruction and death was not yet clear. But we knew we didn’t want anything gruesome on the cover. We want to convey that juxtaposition of Simchas Torah with wartime, and the way the tefillos that once signified joy had now come to hold our desperate prayers for salvation. For once, no cover text was necessary — just the words that now had so many new layers of meaning.


Issue 985

The citizen effort to return the hostages is very impressive, but it’s housed in a hi-tech bubble in Tel Aviv. How to turn that into a cover? By reminding readers of who the hostages are, with an actual drawing found near the ravaged Kibbutz Beeri. The simple but direct cover text did the rest of the work: bring our children back. May they all return, very soon.


Not a Moment Too Early

It’s standard practice among print periodicals to have obituaries of major leaders on file, years in advance. That way, when their time comes, the publications can make some minor adjustments, add a few paragraphs about their recent achievements, and send a comprehensive and impressive piece off to print.

We don’t do that; we treasure every day that our gedolim are here on this earth and don’t want to think about “the day after” a moment too early. This means that when a gadol is niftar, our team must drop everything and start building a fitting tribute. Editors map out the assignments and reach out to whoever can help. Writers contact family members, talmidim, and any other possible source. Our production team works to gather a collection of photos. Everyone makes arrangements to stay late at the office – there’s no grumbling or complaining – and we all daven hard.

The timing is often tight, but on these occasions everyone stretches beyond capacity. We know it’s our responsibility to demonstrate this final kavod to our treasured leaders – and to give readers a sense of what we, as a nation, have lost.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1000)

Oops! We could not locate your form.