Page 70 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 19

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J
e w i s h
B
o o k
A
n n u a l
While the earliest Yiddish weeklies in New York and Chicago
led a brief and precarious existence, the
Yiddishes Tageblatt
, a
daily founded by Kasriel Zvi Sarasohn in 1885, proved to be a
profitable venture because the pace of immigration was quicken­
ing and newcomers needed a newspaper in their own tongue
to orient themselves in the unfamiliar environment. Within
fifteen years, before Europe could even boast of its first Yiddish
daily, the
Tageblatt’s
circulation had risen from 3,000 to 40,000,
and a decade later it climbed to almost 70,000. Since the
Tage­
blatt
catered primarily to orthodox immigrants, labor groups
made several attempts to establish a newspaper that would cor­
respond more closely to their own views and would defend
their interests. These efforts were shortlived until the founding
in 1897 of the
Vorwarts
as the organ of the socialists, under the
editorship of Abraham Cahan.
During the half century of his unchallenged command of the
editorial policies of this newspaper, Cahan did not hesitate to
introduce controversial material and to experiment with un­
conventional, entertaining features calculated to attract men and
women who had not previously been accustomed to reading
dailies. Cahan insisted on his associates using the simplest voca­
bulary, even English words current in the speech of his New
York readers. Difficult concepts were to be avoided or else pre­
sented in a most elementary manner. The ardent devotion of the
Vorwarts
to the cause of trade unionism and its leadership in
the struggle for the amelioration of sweatshop conditions soon
made it the most influential voice of the Eastern European Jews
on American soil, most of whom still lived in slums and abject
poverty. Among its illustrious contributors were Moritz Vin-
chevsky, Leon Trotzky, Sholem Asch, Abraham Reisen, I. I.
Singer, Zalman Schneour, and Abraham Liessin.
Since both Yiddish dailies were afternoon papers, the
Morgen
Journal,
founded in 1901 by Jacob Sapirstein and edited by
Peter Wiernik, was established to satisfy the need for an early
newspaper. It was avidly read by immigrants in need of jobs,
since it could furnish them the best leads through its copious
advertisements. It shared with the
Tageblatt
a leaning towards
orthodoxy and, in 1928, when the latter’s circulation had declined,
it absorbed its older competitor.
The liberal tendency was represented by
Die Wahrheit,
edited
by the gifted journalist Louis Miller from its founding in 1901
until the First World War. It appealed to independent readers
and to secular intellectuals, and attracted renowned writers such
as Chaim Zhitlowsky, Nachman Syrkin, Ber Borochov, and Sholem
Aleichem. It prospered until compelled to face the competition
of the
Tog
under the editorship of Herman Bernstein, from
1914 on. After four years of brave resistance, it capitulated to its
younger and more vigorous competitor, whose galaxy of famed