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Washington Jewish Week high bidder for Jewish Times

The company that owns the Washington Jewish Week will acquire the Baltimore Jewish Times following its high bid of $1.26 million in a bankruptcy asset auction that concluded Monday.

Zvi Guttman, the appointed trustee in the case, confirmed that Route 95 Publications LLC, an entity created by the owners of Rockville-based Washington Jewish Week, was the top bidder for the assets of Alter Communications Inc., including the Baltimore Jewish Times.

Baltimore Community Publishing, an investment group headed by Dr. Scott Rifkin, came in a close second with a final bid of $1.25 million. A third potential buyer, H.G. Roebuck & Son, remained in the bidding until around the $900,000 mark, Guttman said.

The deal still needs court approval, which is expected to come on Thursday.

Alter filed for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy on April 14, 2010, after Roebuck, its former printer, sued Alter and its CEO, Andrew Alter Buerger, for breach of contract in 2009 and won a $362,000 judgment.

In addition to the Jewish Times, or JT Magazine, Alter also publishes Style magazine, Chesapeake Life magazine and a portfolio of custom publications.

“My goal was to keep the publications alive, and we did that,” Buerger said Monday afternoon. “But obviously, we’re sad that the ownership stops here, after four generations.”

The paper was founded in 1919 by David Alter. Andrew Buerger took over the company when his father, Charles A. Buerger, died in 1996. Andrew Buerger changed the company name from Jewish Times Inc. to Alter Communications.

The Jewish Times, Maryland’s largest Jewish weekly publication, publishes on Fridays, averages more than 120 pages and has a paid circulation of nearly 50,000, according to its website.

In an interview with the Baltimore Jewish Times, Louis Mayberg, co-owner of Route 95 Publications, said it was the group’s intention to “continue to have Baltimore-based reporters dealing with Baltimore issues and have staff to support its sales and Baltimore issues.”

With his contract voided, Buerger said he was not sure what role, if any, he would have as an employee of the Baltimore Jewish Times under the new owners. At present, Buerger writes a column and a blog for the paper.

He said that after two years of legal wrangling, he is glad to have the litigation behind him and the paper’s future secured.

“I’m tired,” he said. “It’s been a long battle. I think it might be time for a long vacation.”

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