Interview with Meredith Moss, April 2010
For years, Dayton Daily News’ Meredith Moss Levinson has made us laugh, cry, and think
By Vicki Bernie, Special To The Dayton Jewish Observer
A welcome guest in our homes, features writer Meredith Moss Levinson has shared her life, her thoughts, her love of Judaism and her civic pride with Dayton Daily News readers for almost 35 years.
Calling herself a “native Daytonian,” Meredith moved from Youngstown to Dayton with her family at age 3. They settled on Cory Drive.
“Those were the years when most of the Jewish families lived in Dayton View and all of the kids went to the same schools and hung out in the synagogue youth rooms after school,” she says.
With her father, Jack Moss, an inventor and teacher as her creative role model, Meredith and her brother David — now an internationally respected Judaica artist based in Jerusalem — learned creative problem solving techniques, unique ways to tackle projects.
“Years later, when I was working on a fund-raiser for Jewish Federation, we did manicures for women while we solicited them….we had them in the palms of our hands, so to speak.”
From her mother, she says, she got her love for the arts, travel, theatre and movies.
After attending Fairview and Colonel White High Schools, Meredith headed to Northwestern University for a degree in theatre and then to The University of Pennsylvania for a master’s degree in communication theory.
Meredith describes her 1965 marriage to Jim at Temple Israel as “appropriate, because we met in kindergarten there when we were 5 years old. It took him a while to propose!”
|Meredith Moss Levinson in her natural habitat: the Dayton Daily News features department|
After they married, Meredith and Jim lived in Israel for a year. “Jewishly, I was very influenced by that year,” she recalls. “I remain very committed to Israel. It is an amazing country with a mix of people from all over the world. If there could ever be peace there, the sky’s the limit as to what the Israelis could do.”
The Levinsons returned from Israel in 1967, the week the Six-Day War broke out.
They moved around from Philadelphia, Columbus and Cincinnati before settling in Dayton.
From 1967 to 1973, Meredith worked in television, for WTVN in Columbus and WCPO in Cincinnati as public service and promotional director. She then went on to AVCO broadcasting as publicity director.
Meredith handled the publicity for the Paul Dixon Show, 50/50 Club, and Midwestern Hayride, eventually working for the Phil Donahue Show during its Dayton years. “That’s where I learned how to interview.”
During this time, Jim was the head of the Civil Rights Commission in Cincinnati. He decided to go to law school and then they moved to Dayton, where he became a prosecutor.
“Jimmie has always been incredibly supportive — he always says, ‘Go for it.’”
When their sons were born, they became her priority. “I’m very proud of my creative sons and I adore their new wives.” Stephen is an artist who works for Comedy Central, and Joel — “the contest guy” — is a writer who also does stand-up comedy and commercial voice-overs.
While working on a publicity project for the Jewish community in 1976, Meredith was paired with Arnold Rosenfeld, then editor of the Dayton Daily News, and the idea for Window Shopping, a style and fashion column, was born.
“For years I wrote from home — in a closet that was just big enough for a typewriter and a chair — and would bring my columns down to the paper once a week with a kid in tow,” she says.
When the kids got older, Meredith worked part time then full time at the paper and took on the Child File and Style File columns as well.
“I still look forward to getting up and going to the paper every day. I love the variety! Love learning about people’s passions. It is a dream job — connecting people in the community with resources, as well as breaking down the barriers between people.”
One of her favorite ideas for a volunteer project was the Arts Showcase, an “arts tasting” party at the Dayton Art Institute that brought all local arts performing groups together under one roof for the first time, attracting more than 10,000 attendees.
Last year, the paper devoted much space to a series on breast cancer survivors, and Meredith was among those to relate survivors’ stories.
“I have had the chance to meet so many incredible women,” she says. “So many of the people I’ve written about have inspired me.”
Over the years, she’s also shared her personal reflections in the paper’s Writer’s Block column.
“I wrote about my feelings when my children went off to camp or college and the thrill of having a daughter-in-law wear my wedding dress,” she recalls. “I’ve also shared a lot about what it means to me to be Jewish —about visits and life in Israel, as well as holiday celebrations.”
An incredibly active volunteer in the Jewish and general communities, Meredith will be among the seven recipients of Beth Abraham Synagogue’s Woman of Valor Award on April 14.
Now, as the religion writer for the newspaper, Meredith writes about cultural traditions and ethnicity, subjects that have always been meaningful to her. Exploration of these topics has included spending time with nuns, visiting a Hindu temple, a Quaker meeting house, and a Buddhist center.
“And with WHIO-TV and Radio moving into our building, I’m super excited about the possibilities of working with all of those folks on creative new projects. I feel like I have come full circle. I started out in TV…who would have thought this many years later, TV and radio would be joining us?
“I think it’s the people and community that have made Dayton such a wonderful place to live and raise a family. Because of its size and openness, anyone with a new idea or passion can find a way to express it…and they are welcomed.”