"Who is Guilty?"

"Who is Guilty?" is an episodic radiocast produced by the Yiddish Book Center and read by Eleanor Reissa.

"Who is Guilty?" Episode Ten

"'Excuse me,' I hear the heated voice of a woman who came with quiet, almost silent steps to my desk."

"Who is Guilty?" is an episodic radiocast produced by the Yiddish Book Center and read by Eleanor Reissa. These recordings are based on newspaper reporter Sarah B. Smith’s serialized pieces which covered New York city's courtrooms. Due to the space constraints of a newspaper column, each story had to be short, and as Dan Setzer, the translator notes, Smith had to paint her characters with a few deft master strokes to make us see them as whole individuals. "Who is Guilty?" was published in Yiddish in New York by Literature Publishers in 1919.

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"Who is Guilty?" Episode Nine

"A regular type from the old prison system, a true product of criminality was this bowed old man who was sitting in the defendant's table..."

"Who is Guilty?" Episode Eight

"It was all about a mere twenty-two dollars..."

"Who is Guilty?" Episode Seven

"The accused seemed very familiar to me. Where do I know him from? The question hammered in my head the whole time he stood waiting for his turn..."

"Who is Guilty?" Episode Six

"He is a gangster and she is his girlfriend. He steals and she keeps the loot. He shoots and she keeps the revolver. He watches out for himself and she helps him..."

"Who is Guilty?" Episode Five

Episode Five: "When her trial for assaulting her husband began, everyone knew that she shot him. She, herself, had admitted that she aimed the revolver at his chest, and she was really sorry that the bullet didn't kill him..."

"Who is Guilty?" Episode Four

Episode Four: "A friend asked me: 'Why don't you write a comedy sometime? Surely you must hear a lot of funny stories in court.' I agreed with him, but it is difficult. Court is a building of tears and misfortune; There is where your soul is stripped naked. There, even the comedies are tragedies..."

"Who is Guilty?" Episode Three

"In the early morning when their trial started, the courtroom was almost empty. Aside from the relatives of the young defendants, there was hardly anyone else. Who would be interested in the trial of a couple of little thieves?"

"Who is Guilty?" Episode Two

"A quiet excitement was evident in the court house this early morning. One said to the other: 'Today an eleven-year-old child will send his father to the electric chair! Today a child with testify before a judge how his brutal father murdered his mother...'"

"Who is Guilty?" Episode One

"When the “murder” occurred, the newspapers were full of a police scandal that captured the attention of almost the whole country..."

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About Sarah Brandstein Smith (1888 - 1968):
Sarah Brandstein Smith (1888-1968) was born in Hungary and came to the US when she was 15-years old. She learned Yiddish in New York. Before long she landed a job as a newspaper writer.


In addition to her newspaper column, she wrote several shund roman in Yiddish as well as plays for the Yiddish theater. She also wrote in English. The English-language play, "Piper Paid" had a run on Broadway in 1934. Another play, "Ever the Beginning" became a movie called “My Girl Tisa”  with big-name stars in 1948. 

"Who is Guilty?" was published in Yiddish in New York by Literature Publishers in 1919.

Read "Who is Guilty" in the original.

Copyright for the translation Dan Setzer, 2017.

Sound effects provided by zapsplat.com.

"Who is Guilty?" is an episodic radiocast made possible with support from Carol Raspler and Herbert Druker.

This program is presented as part of Yiddish Book Center's 2022 Decade of Discovery: Women in Yiddish.