The Schmooze

A Bintel Brief: A Bundle of Letters

Liana Finck’s Bintel Brief comic is currently being serialized in the Forward. Her blog posts are being featured this week on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:


This is the first page of a comic book I’m working on. It’s based on the Bintel Brief, a popular Yiddish advice column published in the Forverts newspaper beginning in 1906. It was the brainchild of Abraham Cahan, the man behind the huge success and sophistication of the Forverts newspaper and the mastermind of the Bintel Brief.

About this page: Jacob Zemsner is a fictional character, and this myth about the tears is fictional too, but Abraham Cahan is one of my favorite real characters ever, a self-made American. His face really was vaguely heart-shaped, and he was cross-eyed and terribly embarrassed about that. More facts: he loved Charles Dickens. He was a humanist from a distance, a misanthropist close-up. He was an anarchist (he had to flee Eastern Europe at 22 because he was involved with the group that had assassinated the Czar), then a socialist, but not enough of a purist to satisfy any die-hard idealogues. He kept remaking himself. I completely recommend his autobiography, “The Education of Abraham Cahan.” A page-turner. Also his novel, “The Rise of David Levinsky,” which is slightly dated but no less wonderful because of that. And easier to find in a library than the autobiography is.

Recommend this article

A Bintel Brief: A Bundle of Letters

Thank you!

This article has been sent!

Close
Close