The Schmooze

Happy Birthday, Ab. Cahan!

Today is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Abraham Cahan, the longtime editor of the Forverts. It is hard to imagine a more influential figure in the history of American Jewry than Cahan, who helped found the Forverts in 1897 and was the guiding force behind the paper until his death in 1951. Under his leadership, the Forverts became a friend and confidante to generations of Yiddish speaking immigrants and the most successful Yiddish newspaper in history.

In honor of the anniversary, the Forward recently published a special section on Cahan, which includes pieces about Cahan’s life and career as well as excerpts of Cahan’s own writing.

In my introduction, I argue that while Cahan made many enemies among the socialist and Yiddishist intelligentsia because of his populist and assimilationist policies, his work was invaluable to the ultimate success of the American Jewish experience.

Forward editor Jane Eisner wonders how Cahan would meet the challenges journalism faces today, paying homage to his engagement with readers while acknowledging some of his more pedestrian practices.

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Happy Birthday, Ab. Cahan!

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