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Forverts in English

WATCH: How Newsboys Once Sold the Forverts

This article originally appeared in the Yiddish Forverts.

As a 21st-century staff writer at the Yiddish Forward, it’s always interesting for me to see how the newspaper was portrayed in other media during its heyday.

If the Yiddish film “The Living Orphan” is to be believed, being a newsboy selling the Forverts was no easy task. In one scene, the film’s main character, Benny Berger, played by the child actor Jerry Rosenberg, sings morose songs about being an orphan in an effort to attract a crowd and sell more copies of the Forverts. (As viewers quickly learn, Berger is many things, but not an orphan.) As seen in the clip, his efforts eventually earn him the wrath of his competitors.

Although the film is lowbrow and melodramatic at best, this scene provides an interesting look at Jewish life on the Lower East Side. Based on a play by Sholom Secunda, “The Living Orphan” was one of several emotionally overwrought American Yiddish films of its era directed by Joseph Seiden. Rosenberg, would later shorten his name to Jerry Ross and become one of America’s most talented songwriters and librettists before his tragic death at the age of 29.

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