New York’s Thriving Yiddish Press

December 19, 2018 | Rose Waldman
About the author:

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.

Read more on Tablet:

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register Already a subscriber? Sign in now