The article that follows originally appeared in Newsday as "How a Little Guy Can Get a Big Voice", on January 11, 2000. Mr. Breslin, a friend of JWR's publisher since his early career and to whom he owes a great deal, died Sunday after a short illness. He was 88
I NEED a merger," Binyamin Jolkovsky said.
Binyamin Jolkovsky, 31, sits in his third-floor apartment in Borough Park in Brooklyn with a computer that is a couple of generations back, a cup of tea and all these hopes as he puts out his JewishWorldReview.Com on the Internet for the world to see and hear. He started it in 1997 and it has been long and treacherous, but he never quit.
"I gave up materialism for a higher goal, but I can use a steak," he was saying.
"I put my morality where my mouth is!"
"You're a step from multimillions," I told Binyamin.
"Don't I wish," he said.
"Somebody is going to call and want to merge with you for big money."
"Your lips to God's ear."
So Jolkovsky sits up all night with his Web site and waits for the miracle that could be coming out of the night at any hour. He lives in Borough Park, which is a religious area of soft streets and brick houses that once were priced within reason and now there are some homes costing a million and more.
Jolkovsky lives in rent. He wears a black Stetson fedora, has a beard and curls tucked behind his ears. He was raised in Yeshiva schools and attended the University of Maryland. All he ever wanted to do was work on a "mainstream paper." One job did come up for him.
"We have a Sunday paper, so you'll be working Fridays and Saturdays," he was told.
"I can't," he said. "It's my sabbath."
"What if there's a fire burns down half of Brooklyn on a Saturday?"
"I'll pray for the people," he said.
That put Binyamin in the Jewish press. Never in all the printed past would a newspaper like Jolkovsky's be viewed as anything more than a pamphlet of interest only to a few.
"Nat Hentoff says two United States senators read me," Jolkovsky said yesterday.
He is one of so many-who knows how many tens of thousands?-who are out there with Web sites and who keep putting them out in hopes of getting a call from Levin of AOL-Time Warner.
"You we need!"
There were people like him in the first days of newspapers. They set type themselves, wrote stories, printed the paper and sold it. The circulations were tiny and the money hopeless. But their newspapers, weekly and daily, told the country enough to keep them somewhat informed. Only a few lasted to become known papers.
It is more improbable now because the modern version of a small paper starting up, an online service, comes against Microsoft or AOL-Time Warner. Binyamin sits home and does it alone.
But this time, the lives and habits of people are so far ahead of what the conformists view as the way people live that Binyamin's Internet paper may have more going for it than you'd think. He has people following it in every corner of the world. He receives 400 letters a week from Florida, Holland, England, California, Israel.
Last night, his wire had a lead opinion piece by Sam Schuirnan, who writes: "But a new kind of anti-Semitism may emerge in the 21st century, in reaction to the attempt to make "the Holocaust" central to our civilization. The explosion of 'the joy of sex in the death camp' movies, the proliferation of Holocaust memorials and museums, the emergence of a new academic discipline detached from history called Holocaust and Genocidal studies...all these threaten to undermine a proper understanding of the Nazi war against the Jews."
The immediate reaction was somewhat strong.
I am sitting in Jolkovsky's office when he stopped typing and said:
"You can't say you were here."
"What are you talking about?"
"My wife would be furious if she knew you were here."
"Why? What am I, a bad person?"
"No, but the house is not orderly enough. She would take it as a reflection on her. But she can't do all the work. She is a junior executive on Wall Street. She comes home at 8 o'clock at night too tired to do housework."
"Why don't you do it?"
"Because I am up until 5 in the morning on my Web site."
He met his wife, Rivky, in 1995 when a friend, Rose Miller, matched them up.
On local issues he notes that people in Borough Park are divided over the shooting of Gary Busch by five cops. Busch was a tall lanky disturbed person who had a small hammer held over his head and was gunned down by six cops. No action was taken against them.
"Half the people think it was blatant anti-Semitism," he says. "The others assume that Giuliani will win the election against Hillary Clinton and they don't want to harass a winner."
He said he had to go out to see a doctor. He is a half step away from flu. He looked at the door with doubt. He is three good flights up. He sighed and mentioned the return climb.
"That's the weight," he was told.
"Even skinny people say it's hard," he said. "Everything is hard here."
He tapped his computer. "I need a merger."