Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
News

Velvl Yedidowich, 83, Editor of Russian Paper

When the Forward Association launched the weekly paper in 1995, it joined a crowded media market of two dozen Russian-language newspapers in the New York metro area alone and grew to be the third-largest in circulation. It was an outspoken Jewish voice in the Russian-speaking community, when only one other publication, the Lubavitch-affiliated paper, identified itself as Jews speaking to other Jews.

Vladimir Yedidowich: Founded the Russian-language Forward after serving as an officer in the Soviet Navy. Image by Forward Association

The paper sharply criticized the Russian government’s suppression of independent and democratic voices in Moscow and beyond, when most other Russian-language publications still glorified Putin. It reported on local politics in Brooklyn, where many of its readers lived, as vigorously as it covered national, Israeli and historical issues. It served a highly literate and urbane readership, but one that was new to America and to the open discussion of Jewish culture, politics, religious life and recent history.

Yedidowich was a son of Jewish Vilna who fled to the Soviet Union at the outbreak of World War II and became a communications officer in the Soviet Navy, stationed in the Far East. Then, for 25 years, he headed a research institute on radio technology in St. Petersburg. When he arrived in New York in 1992, he sought a way to connect his fellow immigrants to the Jewishness he remembered from his years in interwar Vilna: a Jewishness that was fully conversant with the majority culture, yet fully comfortable in its distinctiveness. His yidishkayt was not of the synagogues and prayer but of the city and the public sphere. He created that connection — following the example of the Yiddish Forverts (which he remembered seeing in his parents’ home, and which he read up on at YIVO) — in the voice he gave to the Russian Forward. That voice continued to animate the paper under his successor, Leonid Shkolnik, who edited the Russian Forward from 2000 until The Forward Association sold it in November, 2004.

The last few years of Yedidowich’s life were a time of anguish and loss, with the demise not only of the Russian Forward, but also with the death in 2008 of his wife and lifelong partner, Olga, and, two months ago, of his 32-year-old grandson. But they were also years of deep satisfaction, surrounded as he was by his daughters and their families, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He lived to see the publication of “Nash Forverts” (Our Forwerts: Reminiscences and Memoirs of Journalists and Friends, published by Liberty Publishing House, New York), a collection of essays by many of the writers and some of the readers of the paper. The 159-page volume appeared only a few weeks ago. It was his last project.

Zol die erd im gring zayn.

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.