New York’s Thriving Yiddish Press

Dec. 19 2018

The early decades of the last century were a golden age for the American Yiddish press, when tens of thousands of Jews got their news regularly from that source—either instead of or alongside English-language publications. Now, despite the decline of both print media and the proportion of Jews who speak the language, Yiddish newspapers are experiencing a second golden age, but now almost exclusively among Ḥasidim. While Der Yid was founded in the 1950s to serve the Satmar community—one of the largest ḥasidic groups and one deeply committed to maintaining Yiddish—and remains one of the most popular Yiddish dailies, it now has several competitors, even as the non-ḥasidic Yiddish press has all but died off. Rose Waldman writes:

Der Yid’s success is a microcosm of the general burgeoning Yiddish print industry. Nowadays, besides Der Yid, two major newspapers—Di Tzeitung and Der Blatt—cater to the ḥasidic, Yiddish-reading demographic. Readers also have their choice of magazines: Maalos, a monthly established by Sarah Jungreisz in 1996 that attempted to raise the literary quality of ḥasidic publications; Moment, a glossy weekly (not related to the secular Jewish magazine of the same name founded by Elie Wiesel and Leonard Fein in 1975), the first to feature images of ḥasidic personalities on their cover pages in the style of secular glossies; Der Shtern, established by Shimon Rolnitzky; as well as Di VokhDer Blik, and Der Blitz. And for Ḥasidim interested in reading edgier pieces on less mainstream topics, there’s the [somewhat controversial] Der Veker. In the 60 years since Der Yid was established, the industry has come a long way. . . .

The topics discussed in ḥasidic print media have evolved over the years, gradually becoming more forthright about issues that would not have been discussed openly two decades ago. One such topic is the issue of mental illness, first broached by the conservative magazine Maalos. (Maalos was also the first to feature a column on Yiddish grammar and language, a subject previously considered the domain of [secularists].) Nowadays, mental illness is often discussed in both Yiddish- and English-language publications with ḥasidic readerships. . . . Moment frequently serves as a platform for therapists, doctors, and academics who speak about various mental disorders and illnesses.

You have 2 free articles left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Tablet

More about: American Jewry, Arts & Culture, Hasidim, Media, Yiddish

 

A Better Syria Strategy Can Help Achieve the U.S. Goal of Countering Iran

While the Trump administration has reversed much of its predecessor’s effort to realign Washington with Tehran, and has effectively used sanctions to exert economic pressure on the Islamic Republic, Omar Hassino argues that these measures might not be enough:

Iran and its militias control more territory and natural resources in Syria and Iraq than before President Trump took office. . . . The U.S. should back the low-cost insurgency approach that has already shown potential in southwest Syria to bleed the Iranian forces and increase the costs of their expansion and [of Tehran’s] support for the Assad regime. It makes no sense that Iran can fund low-cost insurgencies to bleed American allies in the region, but the United States cannot counter with the same. The administration should also consider expanding support to the proxy forces that it currently works with—such as the Revolution Commandos near the [U.S.] al-Tanf garrison in southwest Syria—for the purpose of fighting and eliminating Iranian-backed militias. This limited escalation can curb Iranian expansion and put pressure on the Assad regime in the long term.

Furthermore, in this vein, the U.S. should empower peaceful Syrian civil-society groups and local councils operating outside Assad-regime control. Last year, the Trump administration eliminated assistance for stabilization in Syria, including funding going to secular anti-Assad civil-society groups that were also combating al-Qaeda’s ideology, as well as the Syrian [medical and civil-defense group known as] the White Helmets, before quickly [restoring] some of this funding. Yet the funding has still not completely been resumed, and if this administration takes an approach similar to its predecessor’s in relying on regional powers such as Turkey, these powers will instead fund groups aligned ideologically with Muslim Brotherhood. This is already happening in Idlib.

The United States must [also] jettison the Obama-era [strategy of establishing] “de-escalation zones.” These zones were from the start largely a Russian ruse to help the Assad regime conquer opposition areas, and they succeeded. Now that the regime controls most of Syria and Iranian proxies are dominant within the regime side, support for de-escalation is tantamount to support for Iranian expansion. The United States must [instead] prevent further expansion by the Assad regime and Iran in parts of the country that they still do not control.

You have 1 free article left this month

Sign up now for unlimited access

Subscribe Now

Already have an account? Log in now

Read more at Tablet

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy