The Jewish Channel, a paid channel like HBO that costs $5 per month, is currently available in New York. About 20,000 New Yorkers have subscribed to the channel and they can flip through the channel’s on-demand programming categories like “Israel”; “history and remembrance,” which deals largely with the Holocaust; and “American Jewry,” which includes documentaries about Jews in the California Gold Rush and other memorable periods, according to the New York Times.
(Click “play” on the video above to see the channel’s trailer for its Fall, 2007 movie lineup.)
They also have original programming, including Inside the Issues, which the Times described as a monthly Charlie Rose-like show produced in partnership with The Jewish Daily Forward. There’s also Rabbis Roundtable, a group of Reform, Conservative and Orthodox rabbis who debate on issues like Barack Obama’s relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., interfaith marriages and the Spitzer scandal.
Elie Singer, CEO of the Jewish Channel, told the Times that Rabbis Roundtable is the perfect example of what the Jewish Channel wants to be about: “interesting and provocative, but not necessarily controversial.” “We didn’t want to narrowcast,” he said. “From the get-go, I was very clear that this was supposed to be everyone’s sandbox.”
The movies tend to be more offbeat, with lots of foreign and independent films. Mr. Singer said he had not wanted to compete with the films shown on AMC and Turner Classic Movies. “But we’ve started to throw a few in.” There was a very successful Woody Allen film festival last winter, and “we just put ‘Exodus’ on,” he said. “It blew everyone away.”
More typical, however, are movies that “the Jewish audience in America would not have access to otherwise,” Mr. Singer said. An example is “Autumn Sun,” an Argentine romantic comedy about an interfaith relationship.
“The channel has great potential, and I think people are hungry for it in the community,” said Adam Dickter, assistant managing editor of The Jewish Week, a community newspaper in New York. “What’s been available in the past has been of public-access-type quality.”
At first, the channel showed “more predictable offerings,” Mr. Dickter said. “But they’ve broadened their programming, and I think there will be a tremendous market if they can develop news and entertainment content.”