The Forward Says Good-Bye to Mister Katz

Colorful Editor Retires After Half Century, Honorific And All

So Long, Louis: The Forward’s long-serving copy editor, Louis Katz, has edited I.B. Singer and other luminaries during a colorful career. He’s also earned a lifetime of respect from his colleagues.
getty images
So Long, Louis: The Forward’s long-serving copy editor, Louis Katz, has edited I.B. Singer and other luminaries during a colorful career. He’s also earned a lifetime of respect from his colleagues.

By Paul Berger

Published February 18, 2013, issue of February 22, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

Fun vanen shtamstu?” — Where are you from? — Singer asked Mr. Katz, who replied that he was from Warsaw, Poland.

“From now on, you gonna be my typesetter,” Mr. Katz said Singer told him.

Mr. Katz went on to set — and correct — Singer’s copy for the next decade. He said that he did not correct for spelling errors, only “stylistics.” Sometimes, Mr. Katz said, “the sentence would not build properly.”

“He was a wonderful writer,” Mr. Katz added. “But we had a lot of wonderful writers.”

Mr. Katz recalled Sholem Asch (“tremendous”), David Bergelson (“wonderful”), Boruch Shefner (“terrific”). Then there were editorialists such as David Shub, who had an encyclopedic knowledge of the Soviet Union, and Jack Rich, who, in an editorial during the 1964 presidential election, called Barry Goldwater a “meshugener.”

Although Mr. Katz spent most of his career setting and correcting Yiddish, he did not learn the language until he was imprisoned with his family in the Warsaw Ghetto when he was 6 years old.

His sister died of typhus in the ghetto. His father jumped from a train bound for the Majdanek concentration camp and spent the rest of the war fighting alongside the partisans. “He died after the war, [because of] everything he went through,” Mr. Katz said.

Mr. Katz and his mother were smuggled out of the ghetto in 1942. He survived the rest of the war hiding alone, first on a farm and then in a convent.

After the war, Mr. Katz reunited with his mother. In 1958 they moved to Paris, where he joined the Jewish labor union, the Bund. He landed his first newspaper job there on the Bundist daily, Undzer Shtime (Our Voice). And from across the Atlantic he read the Forverts daily to familiarize himself with American Yiddish.

When he arrived in New York, in 1962, Mr. Katz found temporary work as a typesetter for a 130-page High Holy Days edition of the Morgen Freiheit, a Communist Yiddish newspaper. Soon after that work ended, he landed the job of his dreams at the Forward.

Mr. Katz took a 14-year break from the Forward, between 1976 and 1990, to help his brother-in-law in the “shmatte business.” But he said that his mind never left the Forward, because “the Forward did good things for me.”

“When I was in Paris,” Mr. Katz recalled, “I said, ‘If I can only get a job in the Forward.” And he did. For a very long time.

Contact Paul Berger at berger@forward.com or on Twitter, @pdberger


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!
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















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

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.