The Jewish Press In New York City Part II

 

Meanwhile, the orthodox class in New York gained in influence and in social position. "The Tageblatt." leaning slightly towards liberalism, no more fully satisfied its needs. Besides, a Jewish morning paper that would tell the immigrant Jew early in the morning where he could look for a job, in addition to what had happened in the world over night, was a long-felt want. When, therefore, in 1902, Jacob Saphirstein, after successfully experimenting for some time with catering to the the Jewish reader by supplying him with sensational novels based on the Dreyfus Case, organized the "Jewish Morning Journal," it was a great success from the very beginning. From its very inception, the "Morning Journal" regarded itself as the spokesman of the orthodox masses in New York City. In 1904, the same Jacob Saphirstein began publishing "The Ammerikaner," a weekly journal, with popular literary material for the family.

The tide of Jewish immigration that swept over America in 1905, as a result of the pogroms that took place in the same year in Russia, brought to this country an element altogether different from the one brought in the first wave. The growth of both the socialistic and the nationalist tendencies in Russia, had changed the outlook of the Jewish masses now flocking to the United States. This nationalist radical tendency among the Jews of New York City was reflected not only through the existing publications, but also through the addition of new ones. In 1905, Louis E. Miller, formerly associated with the "Forward," organized the "Daily Warheit," the first national radical newspaper, of which newspaper he continued as editor until 1914. This daily was in constant combat with the "Forward" with which it competed for the Socialist circulation.

Three noteworthy attempts to establish new Yiddish dailies in New York City, failed. The first attempt was that of the "Yiddische Welt," organized in 1902 by a group of German Jews for the purpose of Americanizing the Jewish masses. The newspaper lasted two years and was edited by Joseph Jacobs, and then by Jacob de Haas, with the assistance of the Rev. Z. Masliansky. The "Yiddische Welt" managed to attract a considerable amount of Jewish talent, and was on the way to becoming very popular when dissensions broke out among the members of the managing board, and the newspaper had to be discontinued. The second attempt was made by the Jewish anarchists of New York City in 1906 when they started their daily "The Abend Zeitung." The newspaper, however, did not live longer than three months. The last effort at Yiddish daily journalism was made in 1914 by Louis E. Miller, who published "Der Führer." The paper was strongly pro-Russian, and so strong was the opposition to it on the part of the Jewish masses, that it had to be discontinued before the liansky. The "Yiddische Welt" managed to attract a considerable amount of Jewish talent, and was on the way to becoming very popular when dissensions broke out among the members of the managing board, and the newspaper had to be discontinued. The second attempt was made by the Jewish anarchists of New York City in 1906 when they started their daily "The Abend Zeitung." The newspaper, however, did not live longer than three months. The last effort at Yiddish daily journalism was made in 1914 by Louis E. Miller, who published "Der Führer." The paper was strongly pro-Russian, and so strong was the opposition to it on the part of the Jewish masses, that it had to be discontinued before the end of three months. The last Yiddish daily to be established was the "Day." It was organized in November, 1914, under the editorship of Herman Bernstein. The newspaper was organized on a non-partisan basis, with the aim of raising the standard of Jewish journalism. It maintained a very high standard from its very inception, and in a short time became very popular.

For financial reasons, the Yiddish weekly was never a success in America. The only Yiddish weeklies existing are party organs, subsidized by their respective party organizations. Of these weeklies, the "Freie Arbeiter Stimme," an anarchist publication, organized in 1900 and edited by S. Yanofsky, maintained for a very long time a high literary standard. "Das Yiddisher Volk," the organ of the Federation of American Ziouists, started in 1909, while "The Yiddische Kämpfer," the organ of the Poale Zion, was organized in 1907, discontinued and then re-established in 1916. The Yiddish speaking Socialists of the Bund category have as their organ "Die Neie Welt," organized in 1913.

Worthy of mention are the few humorous weeklies which appeared in New York, such as "Der Land Cbacham," edited by Shaikevitch, from 1893 to 1894, "Der Yiddisher Puck," also edited by Shaikevitch, from 1894-1896, "Der Ashmedai," which was published and éditée by Morris Rosenfeld and Sharkansky in 1894, "Der Kibitzer," published in 1908-1912, "Der Yiddische Gaz len, ' ' edited by J. Adler and Isaac Eeis, which appeared in 1910, and "Der Rundes," which, organized in 1905 still exists today.

Comparatively few Yiddish monthlies have appeared in New York City. In 1892, "Die Zukunft," a Socialist monthly, devoted to the discussion of social and philosophic problems, was published. Next comes "Die Freie Gesellschaft/' an anarchist monthly, which was published from 1895-1902; "Die Freie Stimme," a literary monthly which appeared in 1904, and the "Yid-dische Zukunft, "a literary Zionistic journal which appeared in New York under the editorship. of Dr. Charles Wortsmann ; the "Familien Journal," a literary monthly which appeared from 1911 to 1914, and "Das Neie Leben," a radical nationalist publication, edited by Dr.Chaim Zhitlowsky, which appeared from 1908-1912.

Published irregularly are Ch. Minikes' "Yomtov Bietter," which has appeared with interruptions since 1897 and the Yiddischer Amerikaner Volks-Kalender,which was edited by Alexander Harkavy, and appeared from 1894-1897.

Looking back on the history of the Yiddish as well as of the other divisions of the Jewish press in New York City, one cannot help being struck by the closeness with which it runs parallel to the entire course of Jewish development in New York City. It would seem as if every change in the complexion of New York Jewry would register itself in the Jewish press almost automatically. For decades the Jewish press carried on a precarious existence. So did American Judaism. Then with the rising tide of immigration, first from Germany, then from Russia, there is a corresponding rise in the number of Jewish periodicals. But simultaneously with this rise there is an increase in the discordant voices in the Jewish press. The Jewish publications instead of reflecting the entire Jewish life in New York City, reflect only that particular corner of Jewish life nearest to them—a course of action resulting in the sheerest communal myopia where there should have been broad communal vision. But here again the Jewish press only registers what happens in Jewish life—the separatists tendencies of New York Jewry in the nineties, before the various elements composing the Jewish Community had time to fuse in the Melting Pot of the Jewish Community of New York City. Since 1905 a new tendency becomes manifest in the Jewish press of New York City it is a centripetal instead of a centrifugal tendency. There is a foreshadowing of the communal point of view and a groping after a communal policy. Again it is nothing other than the fluctuations of Jewish life registering themselves in the Yiddish press. The sledgehammer blows of the Russian pogroms from without and the constant rapidly increasing process of fusion from within had set in motion new constructive forces making for a strengthened communal consciousness and an organized Jewish Community in New York City. The Jewish Press, true to its established traditions, has reflected the working of these new forces, without, however, either anticipating what was about to happen or retarding the work set in motion by leaders with community vision.

II. Present Status

1.The Jewish Press In English

The Anglo-Jewish press reflects to an astonishing degrée the character of the native American Jew to whom it caters. In the first place, it is numerically weak. There are only five important Jewish periodicals appearing in English in New York City, of which three are weeklies and two monthlies. The rest, appearing from lime to time, are of little more than of recording importance. The English-Jewish press is, in the second place, unlike the Yiddish press, more temperate in character and, with the exception of, the American Jewish Chronicle, which in more ways than one closely resembles the Yiddish publications, is not given over to propaganda. Third, in its reactions to Jewish life, the English-Jewish press manifests a dispassionate and ratiocinative interest, that compares interestingly with the emotional attitude of the Yiddish press. Fourth, though its influence extends only to the fringes of the Jewish population, yet limited as its reading circle is, it does happen to reach those who are most influential in Jewish affairs, so that the actual influence of the English-Jewish press is entirely out of proportion to its circulation, which does not exceed 15,000 in New York City. Fifth, the English-Jewish press, chiefly because it is issued for the benefit of a reading public which economically and socially presents very little variation, lacks that variety which is the spice of the Yiddish press. Finally, it lacks originality and Jewish creative ability and has to rely intellectually to a very large extent on the Yiddish press. All this makes the English-Jewish press far less fascinating than perhaps it should be. The future may belong to the Jewish press in English, but its present is certainly far from glorious.

2. Foreign Language Press

(a.) Hebrew

The Hebrew press in New York shares these two features with the English press:—First, it does not minister solely to the intellectual needs of its readers, who get most of their information from other sources ; and, second, it reaches only a small fringe of the
Jewish population. But its close resemblance to the English press does the Hebrew press little good, for on the one hand it is regarded by its readers as a sort of luxury, some of them looking upon the purchase of a Hebrew periodical chiefly as a manner of paying tribute to their renascent Jewish sentiments, and on the other hand the fringe of the Jewish population to which the Hebrew press caters, happens to be the least influential some 8,000 readers of the most recent immigration. Reflecting the point of view of its readers, who are for the most part foreigners, the Hebrew press has no light to shed on communal problems and is most at home in discussions of literary and metaphysical topics. Obviously, its value as a communal influence is negligible .The Hebrew press having only one tradition to draw upon, the Jewish cultural renaissance, is also in its limited way, a one-sided influence. The entire Hebrew press is nationalistic. The two existing weeklies vie with each other in their strong nationalistic leanings but the difference between the orthodoxy of the Haibri and the secular nationalism of the "Hatoren" is by no means comparable to the difference which separates one Yiddish periodical from other.
 


 

Website: The History Box.com
Article Name: The Jewish Press In New York City Part II
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina

Source:

BIBLIOGRAPHY: The Jewish Communal Register of New York City 1917-1918; Edited and published by Kehillah (Jewish Community of NYC) 1918; Lipshitz Press, 80 Lafayette Street, N.Y., N.Y.
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