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Go behind the scenes with the Forward’s legendary advice column Bintel Brief

The Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan is hosting ‘Bintel: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow’ as part of an all-day festival

Have you ever read a letter in an advice column and thought to yourself, “I could answer that better than the columnist!” Well, here’s your chance.

This Sunday, May 21, the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan is hosting an event called Bintel Brief: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, about the Forward‘s legendary advice column. Bintel Brief, which is Yiddish for a “bundle of letters,” originated 120 years ago in the Yiddish Forverts, and Forward archivist Chana Pollack will talk about the column’s history. She’ll be joined by Bintel columnist Beth Harpaz, who will talk about the letters sent in today and offer a behind-the-scenes look at how the staff goes about answering them.

They also hope to read a few letters from the current Bintel inbox and ask the audience to help come up with responses. Feel free  to bring your own questions about love, family, work, friends and religion to the program as well, and we’ll try to offer guidance on the spot.

When the Bintel column was first published, letters were mostly from poor immigrants who needed advice on day-to-day survival in America. Bintel told readers about their rights in this new and confusing country, and sometimes even asked readers to help a destitute letter-writer who had nowhere else to turn. Today, Bintel is more likely to be offering advice on marital strife, wedding costs, estranged siblings or finding community. Bintel remains a beloved and vibrant part of how the Forward connects with readers.

The program is free, from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and it’s part of the museum’s Mishpachah Festival taking place all day Sunday at 36 Battery Place. Advance registration is recommended, but you can also sign up as you walk in. The festival will also be livestreamed for those who can’t come in person.

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