The honorific “Mr.” is applied to just one member of staff at the Forward. Not to Forward Association president and newspaper publisher Samuel Norich, nor to the chairman of the board, Jacob Morowitz, but to a Yiddish copy editor, Louis Katz.
The elfin Mr. Katz — or simply “Katz” or “Ketsele,” as he is referred to by his Yiddish colleagues — left the Forward on February 7, half a century after joining the newspaper as a typesetter and one day shy of his 79th birthday.
“I am telling you, I’ve worked at the Forward a long time and I’m really sorry that I have to go now, because I could have worked [until I was] 120, if I would live so long,” Mr. Katz said during an hour-long interview on his final day at the newspaper.
Mr. Katz, whose accent is in a continuous tug-of-war between his upbringing in Poland and more than three decades in blue-collar Brooklyn and Queens, joined the Forward on October 15, 1962.
He remembers the exact date because he was asked to begin one day earlier, on Yom Kippur, but he refused. “I didn’t want to start my career at the Forward on Yom Kippur,” Mr. Katz said, though he added that occasionally he did work on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.
Mr. Katz joined the Forward a decade after the end of the legendary reign of editor Abraham Cahan, when circulation was a fraction of its more than 250,000-a-day peak. Nevertheless, the 80,000 daily copies that Mr. Katz helped produce during the 1960s in Yiddish — distributed to newsstands across New York City and other major American towns and cities, seven days a week — dwarfs the 2,100 biweekly circulation today.