BALTIMORE has lost one of its most creative journalists and the Jewish community one of its most influential figures with the passing of Charles A. Buerger, publisher of the Baltimore Jewish Times and half a dozen other English-language Jewish publications.
RTC In 1994, as the Jewish Times celebrated its 75th birthday, we described it in these columns as "at once irreverent and deeply committed to the nurturing of the Jewish tradition." The same words apply to Chuck Buerger himself, who took over a dull, community bulletin-board weekly and made it into what is widely regarded as the best newspaper of its kind in the country. Its affiliates in Detroit, Atlanta, Palm Beach, Boca Raton and Vancouver have followed in the Buerger tradition of excellence.
Always innovative, always full of good humor, always ruggedly independent, Mr. Buerger did not hesitate to confront the establishment or the clergy -- both of which can be formidable. He published controversial stories about Israeli politics, ethnic conflict and problems of Judaism in America. One of the editors he constantly goaded to innovate described him with the Yiddish word, tummeli, meaning someone eager to stir things up. He valued talent, instinctively knew what worked and encouraged young journalists to do their best. Ever the entrepreneur, he saw economic synergy in using his staffs to promote a separate line of fashion magazines.
Born in Pittsburgh and transplanted to Baltimore in 1972 to assume control of the paper started by his immigrant grandfather, David Alter, Mr. Buerger soon awakened his readers to the fact that there was a very new Jewish Times arriving each week. At the time of his death, Friday, at age 58, he was full of plans for still another paper in Broward County, Fla., and a flight to cyberspace on the Internet.
Pub Date: 11/09/96