This week marks the 400th issue of our sister publication, the Russian-language Forward. For us here at the Forward family of newspapers, it’s a moment of pride and celebration. We’d like to think, though, that the celebration and the pride are shared by Jews around New York and across America.
From its modest beginnings in December 1995, our Russian paper has grown to become one of the most widely read and deeply respected voices in a hotly competitive immigrant media market. Under founding editor Vladimir Yedidovitch and his successor, Leonid Shkolnik, the Russian Forward has distinguished itself as a sober voice that immigrants trust to speak for them as well as to them.
Like its Yiddish-language predecessor, the Russian Forward is loved on the immigrant street because it respects the newcomers’ unique heritage while helping them to become full, active participants in the new world they have entered. For earlier generations, that simply meant learning to be Americans. For today’s immigrants, it often means learning how to take part not just in their adopted country, but in the worldwide Jewish community in which they are now free to participate after years of isolation.
The dispersal of the Jews of the former Soviet Union to new centers around the world — Israel, Germany, New York and countless other locales — is creating a new Jewish diaspora, whose promise and challenge are only beginning to become clear. Its needs are only now making themselves known; its dreams and its explosive talents have scarcely begun to be tapped. Decades from now, when the veterans and the greenhorns have joined hands and learned to become one people, stretching from Munich to Melbourne and from Brooklyn to Bat Yam, the Russian Forward will have played a vital role in building those bridges.