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Tuesday, September 29, 2020
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Not many outside of my close family know this fact, but I am a longtime fan, to this day, of cartoons and comics. Time permitting, I still enjoy quickly perusing the strips in the local paper that arrives daily to our home and I still find things to smile at, and occasionally, even to laugh aloud to strips ranging from the classic Peanuts to Dilbert, Garfield and Calvin & Hobbes. I missed Gary Larson’s The Far Side when it stopped in 1995, and rejoiced when it was taken out of the ice and given new life early this year.

On the Jewish cartoon side, I have become a fan of The Kichels cartoon which runs weekly in Mishpacha Magazine, and of course, I have long hoped that The Jewish Link would some day have our own weekly and well regarded cartoon strip that would capture the full flavor and warmth of our unique community with on-target humor and occasionally, deep wisdom.

As many of our readers may know, the Jewish Week ceased its weekly print publication at the end of July. One of the weekly features I enjoyed there was the Everything’s Relative cartoon strip, drawn sensitively by Jordan B. Gorfinkel, aka “Gorf." It ran there for 25 years. Over the past quarter century, Gorf produced a weekly strip centered around the lives of a representation of single and married Jewish characters all living together in one brownstone in an unnamed urban neighborhood (which I always assumed was the Upper West Side). In early 2019, Gorf also published the well-received “Passover Haggadah Graphic Novel” with Koren Publications, which we reviewed positively in our paper.

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Perhaps one of the most striking and memorable—for me, at least—COVID-19 related strips I have read was the cartoon strip Gorf published shortly after Pesach. I cite it often today in conversations about the impact of the virus upon us. In that strip, the father of the family muses about all of the good things that happened over Pesach during COVID-19. He notes how much quality time his family had together over Pesach, and how everyone was together for long hours to learn, play, eat and daven together. The chag was almost idyllic! Then the last panel delivers the sharp punch line, “..And of course, we hope to NEVER DO THIS EVER AGAIN!!”

For me, this cartoon captured perfectly the surreal and tense dynamic of how we all tried to do our best and stay positive while at the same time hoping and praying for the virus to go away and never return.

When the Jewish Week closed its print operation, I immediately went into action and emailed Gorf and asked him to consider moving his strip over to The Jewish Link. However, I had a few recommendations. I told him that I did not want to have the exact same strip and asked him to move some characters out of the brownstone and into the suburbs where his new readers and much of our community are living today. I also explained that some of the characters in the old strip were not necessarily characters to whom I and our readership could fully relate. After some back and forth and light negotiations, we agreed that while the core characters would remain, the new strip would evolve with a new focus and a new character or two, and ultimately, would be a brand new comic strip.

Therefore, it is with much happiness and excitement that I bring you on this page a brand new weekly cartoon feature to The Jewish Link (see the inaugural strip below). It is my hope that this new feature will bring a welcome weekly dose of light and sensitive humor mixed with substance to our publication. I hope you, our readers, will come to closely identify with its characters over time. Perhaps, you will see a bit of yourselves every week in the characters’ antics and experiences. I hope so. Enjoy!

By Moshe Kinderlehrer/
Co-Publisher, The Jewish Link

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