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For these users, the website will also carry audio reports and videos with English subtitles. Written reports - from correspondents in the United States, Israel, Russia, Poland, France, Argentina and Australia - will have an online dictionary so that the English translation of a word is only a click away.
“We want to draw people whose Yiddish level is not good enough to read the printed Forverts,” Gottesman said.
“The idea of the website is to be the hub of the Yiddish cultural world, for the students, the older people and the Hasidim. We hope to get everyone to this website.” The English-language Forward has tripled its online readership in the last 2 years and its print output has stayed stable at 29,000 copies a week, which is estimated to reach 80,000 readers.
The Yiddish Forverts has a print run of 2,100 copies and about 6,000 readers. Shifting staff to the website, which editors hope can grow as quickly as the English website, means the print edition will have to be reduced to appearing once every other week.
The print edition will continue even though more than half its readers are in their 80s and 90s. About one-third of its subscribers also buy the English-language paper because the two are not simply translations of each other.
“The Yiddish paper has much more coverage of Ashkenazic culture, Yiddish culture, European Jewish history of the last century and the Soviet period than the English paper has,” Norich said. Half the Yiddish readers are Holocaust survivors who arrived in the United States between 1945 and 1955.
Serving these readers is a top priority for the non-profit foundation that publishes the two papers.
“This is a core mission for us,” Norich declared. “This is our origin and we’re not going to abandon it.”