I must admit that when I started an online weekly pandemic publication in March 2020, I wasn’t thinking about Oak Park. Living in Manhattan, my dreams for The Insider were more about developing an East Coast readership. (Actually, my dreams at the beginning of the pandemic were about finding toilet paper, but that’s another story.)
I soon found out, though, that much of what we were doing pointed in the direction of Michigan. Many friends from childhood wrote the initial stories that launched the publication. Detroit media soon gave us a good ride — with articles appearing in The Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News and The Detroit Jewish News. And our friends at Nu?Detroit couldn’t have been more supportive, running articles of my own and other Insiders. Thanks to all of this, we watched our Detroit readership boom.
We also had the good fortune of running weekly columns by three talented landswomen from the OPHS class of 1970. Bonnie Fishman, a Cordon Bleu-trained chef and renowned Motown patissier, wrote about food and cooking from her new home in the San Francisco Bay area. Judi Markowitz, a beloved English teacher for 30 years at Berkley High School, wrote about the local Detroit scene. And Jessie Seigel, a U. of M. Law School grad-turned-crackerjack career government lawyer, covered the political beat from Washington, D.C.
Now that the pandemic is (hopefully) over, The Insider has run its race. By the time we decided to shutter the e-mag on July 24, we had dozens of other Oak Park-born contributors. (For their names, see the Honor Roll in our last issue.) I hadn’t seen most of them for years, but facing deadlines together creates a camaraderie like that of soldiers in the trenches. Though few of our Oak Park contributors had ever written for the public before, they proved to be super wordsmiths.
No surprise that Yiddish words spiced up many Insider stories. We did a good number of Yiddishkeit articles, like the first remote bat mitzvah in the history of a shul and the upsherin (first haircut) of a three-year-old Orthodox boy.
I was one of those obnoxious teenagers who never stopped talking about leaving Detroit. I couldn’t get out of town fast enough, even though I had no idea where I was going or what I’d be doing when I got there. Well, after taking a circuitous route, I somehow managed to alight in New York City, where I spent my career as a journalist. I never would have believed that I would fall in love with my hometown and my homeys from 500 miles away more than 50 years after our high school graduation. But that’s what’s happened and I’m very grateful. And embarrassed for being such a slow learner.
Judi Markowitz, Sayonara, It’s Been Great!
I came on board in August 2022, and my first article concerned the impact of the pandemic on my daughter Lindsay, who has special needs. It was a difficult time for Lindsay when her program shut down and spending 14 months at home without going out into the community she loved was problematic. I wrote several other articles about Lindsay’s life and my hope was that it would open eyes. The commentary left by readers definitely reflected my aspirations...
Bonnie Fishman, Soul Purpose
What I have discovered over the past two-plus years writing for The Insider is that it has given me so much more than I have given the magazine. I have begun to look at the world differently. My curiosity level is through the roof, especially when it comes to food ingredients and what you can do with them. It’s cucumber season – there’s a story there. I see a field of sunflowers. Hmmm, what can I make with them and write about?? I have yet to visit the mushroom farm nearby and create a delicious recipe and column about that...
Jessie Seigel, Washington Will Keep Whispering!
My journey into journalism began by chance in the early fall of 2020. At that time, I wrote a Facebook post highly critical of Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward because he had—as early as the spring of 2020—amassed evidence that then President Donald Trump knew about the dangers of Covid-19, but had lied about it and chosen to withhold that critical evidence from the public for months. Woodward waited to reveal that critical fact until he was promoting his book Rage, not published until September of that year...
Steve Cash, A Few Laughs, and Now a Few Tears
With a little sadness, I say goodbye to Andrea and The Insider. Writing for Andrea was a privilege and wonderful opportunity. It gave me a chance to do what I have longed to do for years: write weekly articles with the express purpose of trying to express myself and possibly making people laugh a bit. The deadlines forced me to discipline myself to deliver the work in a timely fashion. Andrea's patient and expert editing immeasurably enhanced whatever ability I possessed...
Dr. Nancy Fishman, Love, Loss and the Art of Saying Goodbye
At a time of uncertainty for most, and isolation and loneliness for many, The Insider has offered interesting topics that exemplified the notion we are all truly connected. Our spirits were lifted, we found our senses of humor, and we were reminded of our humanity. We became a community! This, being my final column for The Insider, I decided to write about love, loss and goodbyes...
Marieke Slovin Lewis, An Insider Love Letter
When my mom, Helene Bednarsh, told me in the fall of 2020 that a friend of hers from Oak Park had created an online magazine dedicated to all things pandemic, I jumped at the chance to write about my experiences living in northern Europe. At the time, my husband Richard and I were living in Bailleul, France. We had just moved there from Belgium after the pandemic turned our plans to return to the U.S. upside down. We had tickets and reservations for our three cats and our dog to return to Prescott, Arizona, but the airlines began canceling all international travel with animals. No way to sneak on board when you have four, but we were lucky to be able to say yes to a one-year postdoc position in France.
Alan Resnick, Thank Goodness for Covid
For me, there were two wonderful outcomes of the pandemic. First, all my loved ones are still here. Second, it provided me the opportunity to fulfill a 60-year dream of writing something creative that got published. So The Insider has been a godsend for me. I’ve written a thesis and a dissertation, and also co-authored a couple of psychological journal articles. But that was never the type of writing I intended to do back when I was young.
Jeffrey Markowitz, Happy Trails to You, Until We Meet Again
With the sudden departure of the digital magazine, The Insider, I want to thank everyone who enjoyed reading my articles. It was quite a surprise to see how many of you responded to my stories in such a positive way. It gave me an amazing feeling that I had never experienced before. It was a total shock to my system that I had a hidden talent. What Andi saw in my first article convinced me I had something going on upstairs. I was able to express my feelings in a genuine way and tell it like it was. I’m grateful to all of you who read the articles and could identify with them. It was truly a wonderful revelation! Thanks again readers, it was a lot of fun. Hope to connect in the near future.