Portland native David Brinn is the managing editor of the Jerusalem post, Israel’s largest English language daily newspaper. Photo by Sarah Bin-Num

David Brinn was in his West Bank home Saturday observing the Sabbath on what should have been the most joyous of Jewish holidays when Hamas launched its multipronged attack on Israel.

Brinn, managing editor of the Jerusalem Post, awoke to reports of rocket fire in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The native Mainer had grown used to the occasional rocket since moving to Israel in 1985, but this was more widespread, more intense. By midafternoon, word began to spread of mass shootings, kidnappings and a Hamas ground infiltration.

“On a day like that, people are either at the beach or observing the Sabbath, but either way they aren’t using their phones, TVs or computers,” Brinn said in an interview. “It’s like an unofficial news blackout. Everything’s closed. But when people started using the word ‘invasion,’ and meaning it, I headed into the newsroom.”

What followed was a chaotic 12-hour newsgathering marathon. Brinn had to track down reporters during a major holiday, hand out assignments and then bring it all together a few hours later to publish a detailed record of Israel’s worst tragedy in decades no later than 11:30 p.m.

“The stories of people being shot, raped, burned, killed, some of it playing out before you in real-time, can be too much,” he said. “And, of course, you’re wondering if everybody you love is safe, if you’re safe. But as a journalist, you have to put that aside and report the news. All the feelings hit you later.”

Brinn talked about guiding Israel’s biggest English language daily through the Hamas attack and Israel’s declaration of war during a wide-ranging interview conducted Thursday over WhatsApp, a social media platform that Brinn and many Israelis and Palestinians are using to communicate during the hostilities.


The Post has filed hundreds of stories since the Hamas attack, keeping Jerusalem locals and English-speaking diplomats up to date through its 15,000 daily print circulation. It also reaches another 4 million daily online readers from throughout the international Jewish diaspora.

Coverage has ranged from the first breaking news stories, including wire stories from The Associated Press and Reuters, to follow-up stories about Israel’s decision to cut off food, electricity and medical assistance to Gaza, and profiles of everyday heroes who defended their Jewish settlements from Hamas militants.

Brinn is struggling to figure out how to cover the war now that it is shifting to Gaza, where no Israeli journalist can safely report. Israel has been bombing Gaza while preparing to send in ground troops. For now, Brinn is planning to embed reporters into advancing Israeli military units.

The war is playing out on WhatsApp, he said. Victims used it to call for help from the Supernova rave, from safe rooms during rocket attacks and from emergency rooms. Families scan videos for glimpses of kidnapped relatives. Reporters use it to report from the field and cover areas they can’t reach.


Most of his 50-person editorial staff knows someone who was wounded, kidnapped or killed in the initial attack. The southern Jewish settlements that bore the brunt of Hamas’ assault on Oct. 7 are only an hour’s drive away, the same distance from Portland to Augusta.


Almost everyone has loved ones being called up by the military to prepare for Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

Brinn’s oldest son was called up for reserve duty. He is now working in a tank warehouse in the north. His youngest daughter and her 5-year-old daughter fled a bomb shelter in their home on the northern border to stay with Brinn and his wife outside Jerusalem.

His youngest son, Matan, has relied on WhatsApp to communicate with his Israeli family since moving to Raymond two years ago to learn how to grow cannabis. The 23-year-old checks in daily with them and his young friends, many of whom have been called up for military service.

Matan said he worries about his dad, not so much because he is a journalist but because of his daily bus ride from his West Bank settlement into Jerusalem. The 4-mile route is walled, but there are stretches of the 10-minute ride between the settlement to the city where the bus could become a target.

Matan knows that his former hometown, Ma’ale Adumim, is itself a target. It’s 40,000-person settlement east of Jerusalem that is considered illegal by the international community. Two months ago, during a recent visit, a Palestinian gunman shot up a hamburger shop in a popular plaza in Ma’ale Adumim.

“It snapped me back to reality pretty quick, ‘Oh yeah, I’m not in Maine anymore, I’m back in Israel where we yell and honk at each other and we shoot and bomb each other, too,’ ” Matan recalled. “Now I am here (in Maine), but my family’s still there, and now it’s worse. I don’t think it’s going to get better for a long, long time.”


Although Brinn was raised in a conservative Jewish household in Portland and attended Hebrew school as a boy, he said he could have never guessed when he was growing up in Maine that he would find himself directing an Israeli newsroom during wartime.


Brinn graduated from Portland High School. He had no plans to move to Israel when he went to Boston University, where he studied communications, but that changed when he met Shelley, a fellow student and self-professed Zionist. He would eventually marry her and follow her to Israel in 1985.

He was twice turned down for a job at the Post before he landed a position as a layout artist in 1990. He would go on to write art features before becoming the night editor. He was working that job when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in 1995, yet another breathless Saturday night news marathon.

Brinn became the Post’s managing editor in 2011. He loves the newspaper. In his early years in Israel, it became a lifeline for a transplant who could barely speak Hebrew but desperately wanted to belong. But when he joined the staff, the paper became his life, an extended member of his family.

“Growing up in a newspaper family is different,” Matan said. “My dad’s got a photograph of me getting my diapers changed in the newsroom. When other school kids were focused on soccer or basketball, we were all about the news: watching it, listening to it, talking about it, living it.”


Now, given everything that’s happening, Matan can only hope his family doesn’t become the news. But Brinn said that’s a risk for anyone who lives in Israel or Palestine, even before the latest Hamas attacks and Israel’s retaliatory ground war.

Is the risk higher now than it was last week? No question, Brinn said. As journalists and Israelis, Brinn and other Post staffers are taking precautions to protect their physical and mental health, but that’s life in Israel right now, he said at the end of the interview.

With a sigh, Brinn concluded: “Sadly, I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”

Note: This story was updated Oct. 17 to correct the name of the high school Brinn attended in Portland.

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