The Weekly Reader: Stories about Yiddish Newspapers
It’s fair to say that most of you who receive this newsletter—the Weekly Reader—are, in fact, readers. Which means that you might also be interested in the Yiddish Book Center’s Great Jewish Books Club. And why not? You get to read good books (often Yiddish literature in translation), participate in discussions and events, and much more. While this might seem like a shameless plug for another of the Center’s programs, it’s actually more shameless than that. The first book on this year’s list is an anthology that I edited: Have I Got a Story for You: More than a Century of Fiction from the Forward. And on March 16, I’ll be the one giving a virtual talk for book club members, or anyone else who wants to join. So if you’ve ever wanted to see me in the (virtual) flesh, now’s your chance! Or you could always read on for a taste of what’s to come.
—Ezra Glinter, Senior Staff Writer and Editor
As is so often the case, my March 16 talk won’t be the first time I’ve discussed the book. I promise that I’ll try to come up with new material, but if you want some background you could listen to this podcast interview I did with Center’s Lisa Newman back in 2016, when the book first came out.
Listen to a podcast episode about Have I Got a Story for You
The Whole Story
There are a number of good nonfiction books in English you could read about the Forward and its long history as a Yiddish newspaper, alongside the fiction included in this anthology. But there were also many books written about the Forward in Yiddish that you can access on our website. Here are just two of them: Der gayst fun forverts (The Spirit of the Forward), by Forward editor Hillel Rogoff, and the Forward Almanac, published in 1935 and edited by the paper’s influential manager, Baruch Charney Vladek.
Read The Spirit of the Forward
The Last Yiddish Linotype
If you want to learn more about the Yiddish press, you can visit the Center’s new core exhibit, which will be opening to the public in the fall and will include an entire section on the subject. If you can’t wait that long, however, you can come by now and see one of the most prized nonprinted items in the Center’s collections: the last Yiddish Linotype machine. The exhibit tells the story of how it came to be at the Center, but you can also learn a lot from this wonderful essay by Raphael Halff on the Linotype machine and its history.
A Bundle of Letters
Have I Got a Story for You is a collection of fiction and therefore does not include one of the Forward’s most popular and defining features: the Bintel Brief, or “bundle of letters,” an advice column started by Forward editor Abraham Cahan in 1906. But you can read a selection of letters and answers translated from the Bintel Brief and listen to a podcast interview with artist Liana Finck, whose 2014 book, A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York, reimagined the iconic advice column in graphic novel form.
Read a selection from the Bintel Brief
The Personal Touch
Over the years the Center’s Wexler Oral History Project has conducted interviews with many people connected to the Forward. Here are interviews with Rukhl Schaechter, the current editor in chief of the Yiddish Forward, and Alec (Leyzer) Burko, who worked as a staff writer for the paper.
Watch an oral history interview with Rukhl Schaechter