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Jews in America:
Jewish Newspapers & Periodicals


Jews in America: Table of Contents | Virtual History Tour | Jewish Population


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The Jewish press in the United States has appeared primarily in English and Yiddish but has also sustained publications in Hebrew, German, Ladino, and Russian. The major nineteenth-century American Jewish newspaper was the Israelite (later known as American Israelite), founded by Reform rabbi Isaac M. Wise. Characteristic of the Anglo-Jewish press, it offered local, national, and international news, editorials, feature articles, and general serialized fiction. Ellen Price Wood's Lady Adelaide's Oath (1877) and Amelia Edward's Debenham's Vow (1879) were two fictional works it presented in serialized form.


Der Idisher froyen zshurnal (The Jewish woman's home journal). August 1922. (New York) Hebraic Section, African and Middle Eastern Division

In the twentieth century, Jewish communal weeklies such as the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent added more local news. Their reports on synagogues and their auxiliary sisterhoods and religious schools and their coverage of benevolent organizations and local chapters of national Jewish women's groups have provided an important source for the study of women and culture. Deborah, the German-language weekly (and then monthly) supplement to the Israelite, was the most notable publication created to serve the German-Jewish immigrants who arrived in the United States in increasing numbers in the mid-nineteenth century. Its focus was on a female readership interested in the home, school, and community.

Yiddish-language newspapers have been the largest and most influential arm of the Jewish press. The golden age of Yiddish journalism peaked in 1915-16 when five dailies in New York City alone boasted a circulation of five hundred thousand readers — many of whom were women. The Hebraic Section [of the Library of Congress] holds microform of the major American Yiddish newspapers that expressed the new immigrants' idealistic yearnings even as they moved headlong into full citizenship.

In addition to national and international news, the papers devoted considerable space to labor issues — especially strikes in the garment industry, which employed a great number of women — and to efforts to improve the conditions of all workers. From 1923 to 1927, during a period of rivalry with communists, the anarchist group within the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America published the Yiddish-language newspaper Der Yunyon arbayter (The union worker). Di Fraye arbeter shtime (The free voice of labor), the Yiddish-language anarchist monthly, provided a forum for female writers and poets.

Among the New York Yiddish dailies, the foremost newspaper that supported both social activism and Americanization was the Forverts (Jewish daily forward), published for more than a century in New York City. The most widely read feature, the “Bintel Brief” (Bundle of letters), was a daily personal advice column that began in 1906 to give immigrants the opportunity to pour out their hearts about their problems with husbands, wives, in-laws, children, poverty, and work, responding with advice. One newlywed American-born woman wrote to ask if she should leave her Russian-born husband because her friends scoffed at his being a “greenhorn” and she was beginning to think like them. The editor assured her that her bridegroom would learn American history and literature as well as her friends and be a better American than they. Today, Yiddish readers in New York, many of them survivors of the Holocaust and observant Orthodox, can subscribe to Di Tsaytung and Der Algemeyner zshurnal [Algemeiner Journal].

Owing to a fresh readership, the small Hebrew press in the United States, most notable for ha-Do'ar, a weekly that first appeared in 1922, has generated new publications in recent decades. The Hebrew-language New York newspaper Yisrael Shelanu is geared to the two hundred thousand Israelis who now live in this country. Its “Ezrat Nashim” section (named for the women's gallery in the synagogue) offers recipes, shopping tips, and biblical commentary. A newspaper that appeals mainly to traditional Jews, Yated Ne'eman, began publication in Monsey, New York, in 1989. Among its features in the “Home and Family” section are “Mother to Mother” and “Letters to Bubby” (or letters to grandmother) columns.

Jewish Women's Periodicals

The first independent Jewish women's journal in the United States was the American Jewess (1895-99), an outgrowth of the activism generated by late-nineteenth-century middle-class German-Jewish club women, particularly those associated with the newly founded National Council of Jewish Women. This organization created the Jewish Woman (1921-31), and regional sections of the group published their own monthly and annual publications. Organs of other Jewish women's groups in the Library's collections, although holdings for them are not complete, include those of Hadassah, Na'amat (formerly Pioneer Women), and Jewish Women International (formerly B'nai B'rith Women). Additional independent journals include Der Idisher froyen zshurnal (Jewish woman's home journal), Di Idishe heym [Di Yiddishe Heim] (The Jewish home), Lilith: The Independent Jewish Women's Magazine, and Bridges: A Journal for Jewish Feminists and Our Friends, a twice-yearly anthology that seeks to make connections among lesbian, gay, antiracist, and working-class Jewish women's movements.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Goren, Arthur. “The Jewish Press.” In The Ethnic Press in the United States, edited by Sally M. Miller, 203-28. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1987. PN4882.E84 1987, MRR Alc, EurRR, N&CPR.

This volume provides dates and titles for newspapers for many different groups.

Index to the American Jewish Year Book. Vols. 1-50. New York: American Jewish Committee, n.d. E184.J5 A6 Hebr Ref.

Index to the Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society. Vols. 1-20. Baltimore: American Jewish Historical Society, 1914. E184.J5 A5 Hebr Ref.

An Index to Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society. Vols. 21-50. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Carlson Publishing, 1994. E184.3.I56 1994, Hebr Ref.

Kaganoff, Nathan M. Judaica Americana: An Annotated Bibliography of Publications from 1960-1990. 2 vols. Brooklyn, N.Y.: Carlson Publishing, 1995. Z6373.U5 K34 1995, Hebr Ref, MRR Alc.

Koppel, Lenore Pfeffer, ed. Index to Jewish Periodicals. Cleveland Heights, Ohio, 1964-. Z6367.I5 MRR Alc, Hebr Ref.

Marcus, Jacob Rader, ed. An Index to Scientific Articles on American Jewish History. Cincinnati, Ohio: American Jewish Archives, and New York: Ktav, 1971. Z6372. M35 Hebr Ref.

Zafren, Herbert C., ed. Jewish Newspapers and Periodicals on Microfilm: Available at the American Jewish Periodical Center. Cincinnati: The Center, 1984. Z6367.H48 1984, Hebr Ref.


Sources: Library of Congress

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