The Arty Semite

Historic Yiddish Newspaper Now Online

By Shoshana Olidort

  • Print
  • Share Share

For Yiddish enthusiasts — among them academics, writers, and history buffs — it may seem that there is a perpetual dearth of good news. It would be silly to try and argue against such negativity — after all the evil eye is always watching. Still, even the darkest among us finds comfort in the rare burst of good news, especially when it relates to that golden purveyor of all news, good and bad: the newspaper.

But to get to the point, as my Yiddish-speaking great-grandmother would tell me to do: Take heart Yiddin, a tome of Yiddish wisdom has been digitized, which is to say, eternalized, on the Historical Jewish Press Website. That tome is the Yiddish newspaper Haynt.

Founded in Warsaw in 1908, Haynt was the most widely read Yiddish newspaper in Eastern Europe, with a readership numbering in the tens of thousands. In addition to news reporting and columns on everything from humor to women’s issues, Haynt featured highbrow literary works by prominent writers like Sholem Aleichem and Hirsch Dovid Nomberg, as well as the more popular serialized shundromanen, or trash novels.

The political turmoil of the era, beginning with the outbreak of World War I, dramatically altered the scope of the paper, which for a time cut back to the bare bones of news reporting. Still, despite heavy censorship, the paper continued to be published (albeit under different names, including Nayer haynt and Der Tog), even after the outbreak of World War II. The final issue appeared on September 22, 1939, just days before Warsaw surrendered.

Now, more than 70 years later, the newspaper is available in full, thanks to the Jewish Historical Press website, a joint project of Tel Aviv University and the Israel National Library. Founded in 2006, the website now includes 29 publications from 11 countries, including Egypt, Russia, Hungary, France and Israel, totaling some 600,000 pages.

Yaron Tsur, a professor at Tel Aviv University’s History Department who founded and co-directs the project, believes the site will pass the one million-page mark in the next two years. On board with Tsur are co-director Alon Strassman and Israel Weiser of the National Library of Israel, and project manager Chezkie Kasnett. Professor Avraham Nowerstern wrote the introduction to the newspaper’s electronic edition. The inclusion of Haynt on the Jewish Historical Press Website was made possible thanks to the support of the David and Fela Shapell Family foundation.

The next Yiddish paper to be added to the site is Literariche Bletter, which was also published in Warsaw in the 1920s and ‘30s. For readers of the Forward it is hard not to let the mind wander, to imagine, to hope that one day this will be true of the Forverts, too. May it happen soon.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Newspapers, Shoshana Olidort, Yaron Tsur, Jewish Historical Press, Haynt, Yiddish

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • What's a "telegenically dead" Palestinian?
  • 13 Israeli soldiers die in Gaza — the deadliest day for the IDF in decades. So much for 'precision' strikes and easy exit strategies.
  • What do a Southern staple like okra and an Israeli favorite like tahini have in common? New Orleans chef Alon Shaya brings sabra tastes to the Big Easy.
  • The Cossacks were a feature in every European Jewish kid's worst nightmare. Tuvia Tenenbom went looking for the real-life variety in Ukraine — but you won't believe what he found. http://forward.com/articles/202181/my-hunt-for-the-cossacks-in-ukraine/?
  • French Jews were stunned when an anti-Israel mob besieged a synagogue outside Paris. What happened next could be a historic turning point.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?








You may also be interested in our English-language newsletters:













We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.