During recent months a special edition of the Yiddish
newspaper, The Jewish Forward, has begun to appear in
Israel. The American Yiddish-English newspaper, founded 103
years ago, is currently trying to attract circulation among
Yiddish readers in Israel.
During its heyday, the paper was considered the official
mouthpiece of the Bund, a Jewish socialist movement. Since
then, the newspaper has moderated its extreme socialistic
views, although its front page still bears its original
motto, "for the Labor party." Today, the paper is a platform
for various perspectives, and presents a variety of topics,
including those of a religious nature, such as the
parsha and candlelighting time. It also presents
general issues akin to those appearing in secular newspapers
throughout the world.
Who needs a Yiddish paper today? It still isn't clear who
uses Yiddish as a living languages, except for chareidim and
those who study it in university. Dr. Boris Kotlerman, the
paper's Israel representative who sent us a number of
editions as examples, is a native of Birobijan, the former
Russian Jewish-secular reserve where no Jews currently live.
Dr. Kotlerman isn't optimistic about Yiddish's chances of
serving as a spoken language on a broad basis. He admits that
Yiddish is a living language only in certain chareidi
circles, especially in the United States and Israel.
Nonetheless, he insists on believing that the Forward
just might succeed in Israel.
It seems that the paper doesn't depend on subscriptions or
ads. Apparently someone is offering the Forward and
similar papers financial backing out of nostalgia for secular
Yiddish, which in the past was the language of thousands of
Jews who tottered on the fence.