Simi Lampert, Standing up for journalism.

Simi Lampert, 22

Twitter: @beaconmag

Talk about a bombshell. The story Simi Lampert chose to publish in The Beacon, an online publication for and by Modern Orthodox college students — about a Modern Orthodox woman’s premarital tryst in a New York hotel room — bounded past the Jewish media and made it all the way to Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

But, said Lampert, the Beacon’s editor-in-chief and founder, a petite redhead in Israeli sandals, the shock value of the story “was exactly the point.” 

Lampert, a senior journalism student at Yeshiva University, founded The Beacon after an article of hers about the problem of drinking on campus was rejected by a YU publication because of its content. “There needs to be a forum within the Jewish community to discuss uncomfortable topics,” she said. “Progress requires discussion — that was my vision for The Beacon.”

The article, and YU’s decision to cut ties with the paper, spiraled into a huge news story. But Lampert stood her ground and refused to remove the article.

After breaking with the university, The Beacon has become a national Jewish thought magazine aimed at including an even wider spectrum of voices; it receives contributions from Jewish students at NYU, Queens College, UCLA, Harvard and other schools. Lampert will be passing on the editorial torch to another student at YU next year. “I feel I have done my part,” said Simi.

“Before The Beacon, I was a bit skeptical about Jewish journalism,” she said. “Now I see how much journalism is needed within the Jewish community. Change can’t happen without dialogue.” Lampert will be working this summer at The Jewish Daily Forward.

Active minds: Lampert worked for Active Minds, a student group at YU raising awareness about mental health. “Met my boyfriend at last year’s event,” she said.  Blue hair: Recently, Lampert chose to dye a streak of her hair blue. Why blue? “Why not?”




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The Beacon is really not so bad. These articles that most people supposedly think are about sex are actually full of allegories. For example, the article entitled "How Do I Even Begin To Explain This" written by that anonymous Stern girl probably didn't even happen to the extent portrayed by its author. It was probably just a breach of shomer negiya or something minor like that. AFAICT, I don't think anyone ever said that the male in that "How Do I Even Begin To Explain This" article didn't walk his own proverbial walk of shame as well after the motzaei shabbat incident.

You have done something that so many before have feared. You have opened up an insular community to the real world and modernity. By creating the Beacon, you have allowed the world to hear the voices of everyone, the suffering and the content. Good luck on your holy mission.

How are the 36 under 36 selected? Surely there are thousands of Jews under 36 that have made more significant contributions than the creation of this poorly edited "forum ... to discuss uncomfortable topics."

The Beacon is trash. You can try and portray it as a crusader for literary freedom, etc. but the fact remains that there is no editorial process and they are willing to publish ANYTHING (a story was published about a man having sex with an animal, I believe). The Beacon is pure garbage. Don't try and show it as anything else.

The Beacon is full of trash? When was the last time you considered the pain of others? Who are you to say what is considered valuable conversation? And I never saw any articles about animal sex - please show me?? don't discredit the Beacon or the editor for doing something that others are too afraid to do.

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