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The Forward

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The Forward commonly known as The Jewish Daily Forward, is a Jewish-American newspaper
A newspaper is a scheduled publication containing news of current events, informative articles, diverse features and advertising. It usually is printed on relatively inexpensive, low-grade paper such as newsprint. By 2007, there were 6580 daily newspapers in the world selling 395 million copies a...

 published in New York City. The publication began in 1897 as a Yiddish-language daily issued by dissidents from the Socialist Labor Party
Socialist Labor Party of America
The Socialist Labor Party of America , established in 1876 as the Workingmen's Party, is the oldest socialist political party in the United States and the second oldest socialist party in the world. Originally known as the Workingmen's Party of America, the party changed its name in 1877 and has...

 of Daniel DeLeon. As a privately-owned publication loosely affiliated with the Socialist Party of America
Socialist Party of America
The Socialist Party of America was a multi-tendency democratic-socialist political party in the United States, formed in 1901 by a merger between the three-year-old Social Democratic Party of America and disaffected elements of the Socialist Labor Party which had split from the main organization...

, Forverts achieved massive circulation and considerable political influence during the first three decades of the 20th Century. The publication still exists as a weekly news magazine in parallel Yiddish (Yiddish Forward) and English editions (The Jewish Daily Forward).


The first issue of Forverts, appeared on April 22, 1897 in New York City. The paper was founded by a group of about 50 Yiddish-speaking socialists who organized themselves approximately three months earlier as the Forward Publishing Association. The paper's name, as well as its political orientation, was borrowed from the German Social Democratic Party and its organ Vorwärts
Vorwärts was the central organ of the Social Democratic Party of Germany published daily in Berlin from 1891 to 1933 by decision of the party's Halle Congress, as the successor of Berliner Volksblatt, founded in 1884....


Forverts was a successor to New York's first Yiddish-language socialist newspaper, Di Arbeter Tsaytung (The Workman's Paper), a weekly established in 1890 by the fledgling Jewish trade union movement centered in the United Hebrew Trades
United Hebrew Trades
United Hebrew Trades was an association of Jewish labor unions in New York.It was founded by the Socialist Labor Party's Yiddish Branch 8 and Russian Branch 17 together with Jewish unions in in New York in October 1888. Among the founding members were Morris Hillquit and Bernard Weinstein...

 as a vehicle for bringing socialist and trade unionist ideas to non-English speaking immigrants. This paper had been merged into a new Yiddish daily called Dos Abend Blatt
Dos Abend Blatt
Dos Abend Blatt was a Yiddish language daily newspaper published in New York City, United States. Dos Abend Blatt was launched as an outgrowth of the weekly Di Arbeter Tsaytung...

(The Evening Paper) as its weekend supplement when that publication was launched in 1894 under the auspices of the Socialist Labor Party (SLP). As this publication established itself, it came under increased political pressure from the de facto head of the SLP, Daniel DeLeon, who attempted to maintain a rigid ideological line with respect to its content. It was this centralizing political pressure which had been the motivating factor for a new publication.

Chief among the dissident socialists of the Forward Publishing Association were Louis Miller and Abraham Cahan
Abraham Cahan
Abraham "Abe" Cahan was a Lithuanian-born American socialist newspaper editor, novelist, and politician.-Early years:...

. These two founding fathers of The Forward were quick to enlist in the ranks of a new rival socialist political party founded in 1897, the Social Democratic Party of America, founded by the nationally famous leader of the 1894 American Railroad Union strike, Eugene V. Debs
Eugene V. Debs
Eugene Victor Debs was an American union leader, one of the founding members of the International Labor Union and the Industrial Workers of the World , and several times the candidate of the Socialist Party of America for President of the United States...

, and Victor L. Berger
Victor L. Berger
Victor Luitpold Berger was a founding member of the Socialist Party of America and an important and influential Socialist journalist who helped establish the so-called Sewer Socialist movement. The first Socialist elected to the U.S...

, a German-speaking teacher and newspaper publisher from Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee is the largest city in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, the 28th most populous city in the United States and 39th most populous region in the United States. It is the county seat of Milwaukee County and is located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. According to 2010 census data, the...

. Both joined the SDP in July 1897.

Despite this political similarity, Miller and Cahan differed as to the political orientation of the paper and Cahan left after just 4 months to join the staff of The Commercial Advertiser, a well-established Republican newspaper also based in New York City.

For the next four years Cahan remained outside of The Forward office, learning the newspaper trade in a financially successful setting. He only returned, he later recalled in his memoirs, upon the promise of "absolute full power" over the editorial desk.

The circulation of the paper grew quickly, paralleling the rapid growth of the Yiddish speaking population of the United States. By 1912 its circulation was 120,000, and by the late 1920s/early 1930s, The Forward was a leading U.S. metropolitan daily with considerable influence and a nationwide circulation of more than 275,000 though this had dropped to 170,000 by 1939 as a result of changes in U.S. immigration policy that restricted the immigration of Jews to a trickle.

Early on, The Forward defended trade unionism and moderate, democratic socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

. The paper was a significant participant in the activities of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union
International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union
The International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union was once one of the largest labor unions in the United States, one of the first U.S. unions to have a primarily female membership, and a key player in the labor history of the 1920s and 1930s...

; Benjamin Schlesinger
Benjamin Schlesinger
Benjamin Schlesinger was the President of the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union from 1903–1907, for a second term from 1914–1923, and for a third and final term from 1928 until his death in 1932...

, a former president of the ILGWU, became the General Manager of the paper in 1923, then returned to the Presidency of the union in 1928. The paper was also an early supporter of David Dubinsky
David Dubinsky
David Dubinsky was an American labor leader...

, Schlesinger's eventual successor.

The most well-known writer in the Yiddish Forward was Isaac Bashevis Singer
Isaac Bashevis Singer
Isaac Bashevis Singer – July 24, 1991) was a Polish Jewish American author noted for his short stories. He was one of the leading figures in the Yiddish literary movement, and received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978...

, who received the Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

 in literature although other well known Socialist literary and political figures, such as Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky
Leon Trotsky , born Lev Davidovich Bronshtein, was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army....

 and Morris Winchevsky
Morris Winchevsky
Morris Winchevsky Morris Winchevsky Morris Winchevsky (Leopold Benzion Novokhovitch; Pseudonym: Ben Netz (Hebrew: 'Son of Hawk'; 1856–1932) was a prominent Jewish socialist leader in London and the United States in the late 19th century....

 have also written for it.

Major political developments in the early 1930s, chief among them Franklin Delano Roosevelt's election in 1932, gave rise to internal tensions with the Socialist Party, and a group of Socialist labor leaders on the East Coast left the Socialist Party to form the Social Democratic Federation (U.S.). Through organizations like New York State's American Labor Party
American Labor Party
The American Labor Party was a political party in the United States established in 1936 which was active almost exclusively in the state of New York. The organization was founded by labor leaders and former members of the Socialist Party who had established themselves as the Social Democratic...

, they helped move the mass vote held by the Socialist Party in places like New York City, Bridgeport, Connecticut, and Reading, Pennsylvania into the Democratic Party.

Modern times

By 1962 circulation was down to 56,126 daily and 59,636 Sunday, and by 1983 the newspaper was published only once a week, with an English supplement. In 1990 the English supplement became an independent weekly which by 2000 had a circulation of 26,183, while the Yiddish weekly had a circulation of 7,000 and falling.

As the influence of the Socialist Party in both American politics and in the Jewish community waned, the paper joined the American liberal
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 mainstream though it maintained a social democratic
Social democracy
Social democracy is a political ideology of the center-left on the political spectrum. Social democracy is officially a form of evolutionary reformist socialism. It supports class collaboration as the course to achieve socialism...

 orientation. The English version has some standing in the Jewish community as an outlet of liberal policy analysis.

The Yiddish edition has recently enjoyed a modest increase in circulation as courses in the language have become more popular among university students; circulation has leveled out at about 5,500. The current editor of the Yiddish Forward is Boris Sandler, who is also one of the most significant contemporary secular writers in Yiddish.

For a period in the 1990s, conservatives came to the fore of the English edition of the paper, but the break from tradition didn't last. A number of conservatives dismissed from The Forward later helped to found the modern New York Sun
New York Sun
The New York Sun was a weekday daily newspaper published in New York City from 2002 to 2008. When it debuted on April 16, 2002, adopting the name, motto, and masthead of an otherwise unrelated earlier New York paper, The Sun , it became the first general-interest broadsheet newspaper to be started...


As of 2008, The Forward is published as a weekly news magazine in separate Yiddish and English editions. Each is effectively an independent publication with its own contents. Jane Eisner
Jane Eisner
Jane Eisner, a pioneer in journalism, became editor of the Forward in June 2008, becoming the first woman to hold the position at the influential Jewish national weekly newspaper...

 became Editor in June, 2008. The Senior Columnist is J.J. Goldberg
J.J. Goldberg
J. J. Goldberg is Editor-at-Large of the newspaper The Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years . He served in the past as U.S...

, who has served in that role since 2008. The paper maintains a left of center editorial stance.

For a few years, there was also a Russian edition. The website of the Forward describes its formation: "In the fall of 1995 a Russian-language edition of the Forward was launched, under the editorship of Vladimir "Velvl" Yedidowich. The decision to launch a Russian Forward in the crowded market of Russian-language journalism in New York followed approaches to the Forward Association by a number of intellectual leaders in the fast-growing émigré community who expressed an interest in adding a voice that was strongly Jewish, yet with a secular, social-democratic orientation and an appreciation for the cultural dimension of Jewish life."

The Russian edition was sold to RAJI (Russian American Jews for Israel) in 2004, although initially it kept the name. In contrast to its English counterpart, the Russian edition and its readership were more sympathetic to right-wing voices. In March 2007, it was renamed the Forum.

Around the same time in 2004, the Forward Association also sold off its interest in WEVD
WEPN is a 24-hour sports talk formatted radio station in New York City featuring national and local sports talk programs and live broadcasts of sports matches. It is the New York affiliate for ESPN Radio...

 to the Disney Company's sports division ESPN.

Jewish Daily Forward Building

At the peak of its popularity, the Forward erected a ten-story office building at 175 East Broadway
East Broadway (Manhattan)
East Broadway is a two-way east-west street in the Chinatown and Lower East Side neighborhoods of the New York City borough of Manhattan. East Broadway begins at Chatham Square and runs eastward under the Manhattan Bridge, continues past Seward Park and the eastern end of Canal Street, and ends...

 on the Lower East Side
Lower East Side
The Lower East Side, LES, is a neighborhood in the southeastern part of the New York City borough of Manhattan. It is roughly bounded by Allen Street, East Houston Street, Essex Street, Canal Street, Eldridge Street, East Broadway, and Grand Street....

, designed by architect George Boehm and completed in 1912. It was a prime location, across the street from Seward Park
Seward Park (Manhattan)
Seward Park is a public park and playground in the Lower East Side of the New York City borough of Manhattan, north of East Broadway, east of Essex Street...

. The building was embellished with marble columns and panels and stained glass windows. The facade features carved bas relief
Relief is a sculptural technique. The term relief is from the Latin verb levo, to raise. To create a sculpture in relief is thus to give the impression that the sculpted material has been raised above the background plane...

 portraits of Karl Marx
Karl Marx
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement...

, Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was a German industrialist, social scientist, author, political theorist, philosopher, and father of Marxist theory, alongside Karl Marx. In 1845 he published The Condition of the Working Class in England, based on personal observations and research...

, and Ferdinand Lassalle
Ferdinand Lassalle
Ferdinand Lassalle was a German-Jewish jurist and socialist political activist.-Early life:Ferdinand Lassalle was born on 11 April 1825 in Breslau , Silesia to a prosperous Jewish family descending from Upper Silesian Loslau...

. A fourth relief portrays a person whose identity has not been clearly established, and has been identified as Wilhelm Liebknecht
Wilhelm Liebknecht
Wilhelm Martin Philipp Christian Ludwig Liebknecht was a German social democrat and a principal founder of the SPD. His political career was a pioneering project combining Marxist revolutionary theory with practical, legal political activity...

, Karl Liebknecht
Karl Liebknecht
was a German socialist and a co-founder with Rosa Luxemburg of the Spartacist League and the Communist Party of Germany. He is best known for his opposition to World War I in the Reichstag and his role in the Spartacist uprising of 1919...

, or August Bebel
August Bebel
Ferdinand August Bebel was a German Marxist politician, writer, and orator. He is best remembered as one of the founders of the Social Democratic Party of Germany.-Early years:...

In the real estate boom of the 1990s, the building was converted to condominiums.

Forward 50

The Forward 50 is a list of fifty Jewish-Americans "who have made a significant impact on the Jewish story in the past year," published annually as an editorial opinion of The Forward newspaper since 1994. The list was the initiative of Seth Lipsky
Seth Lipsky
Seth Lipsky is the founder and editor of the New York Sun, an independent conservative daily in New York City that ceased its print edition on September 30, 2008. Lipsky counts Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill, Ariel Sharon, and Milton Friedman among his intellectual and...

, founding editor of the English Forward.

According to the newspaper's website, this is not a scientific study, but rather the opinion of staff members, assisted by nominations from readers. The Forward does not endorse, or support any of the individuals mentioned in the listing. The rankings are divided into different categories (which may vary from year to year): Top Picks, Politics, Activism, Religion, Community, Culture, Philanthropy, Scandals, Sports and, new in 2010, Food.

The list also includes those Jews whose impact in the past year has been dramatic and damaging.

External links