Print Journalism Just Read its Own Obit and Got Angry – In Yiddish
Ever longer grows the list of newspapers whose print editions are closed, closing or in imminent danger. But while the chances of getting newsprint on your fingers from any of the Rocky Mountain News, New Haven Register, Philadelphia Inquirer, New York Daily News, Minneapolis Star Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Seattle Post Intelligencer, Tucson Citizen, the Miami Herald and the Christian Science Monitor may be fading, that’s not true of all newspapers.
And, most surprisingly, not true of a Yiddish newspaper. Started in January 2006 as a sister newspaper to the Forward and the Forverts, the monthly Vayter appeals to those who want to learn the language at an adult level. Whereas “Forverts” is a Yiddishization of a German word for “forward” that seemed avant-garde in 1897, Vayter is the real thing — a Yiddish word for “further.”
Originally with a circulation of 1500 it has almost doubled its run numerically and has broadened its reach to such far-flung enclaves of Yiddish speakers and would-be Yiddish speakers as Australia and Finland. It also can be read – and heard! – on the internet. Although not large in absolute figures, the numbers buck the trend. This is testament to the burgeoning of Yiddish as a university language, a fact also reflected in Vayter’s nine-month publication schedule.
It is the monthly creation of Boris Sandler (editor of the Forverts) and Gennady Estraikh (professor of Yiddish studies at NYU) who have seen it spread to most countries that ever had a Yiddish population and to some that never did, until now. Estraikh told us that the success came as no surprise to him: “As a student of history of the Forverts I know that the newspaper used to publish additional periodicals, such as Tsayt-gayst and Veker, targeting various groups of its potential readership. Like them Vayter has found its niche — as an interface between language textbooks and ‘real’ books.”
Of course his interest is not impartial: “We hope that this nursery will also train new Forverts readers. Apart from fluency in Yiddish, Forverts readers have to know at least some basics of Yiddish-related history. So we combine two things: develop our readers’ language skills and, at the same, educate them.” In that vein the next issue talks about Yiddish in New York and on the early history of the NY Yiddish daily Der Tog (Day), 1914-1973.
Long may it continue or, as the Vayter might say “lomir geyn vayter”— “let’s go further ahead!”