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April 20: The Yiddish Gazette

April 19, 2016

YiddishTypeDi Yidishe Gazeten (the Yiddish Gazette), the first enduring American Yiddish weekly, began publication on this date in 1874. Published in New York by Kasriel Hersh Sarasohn, a new immigrant from Russia, the paper survived for more than half a century and reached a circulation of 70,000. It was traditionally religious in orientation and earned significant influence in the Orthodox community. Sarasohn, who had abandoned his rabbinical training, founded three different Jewish publications over the course of little more than a decade — but at first had serious difficulty obtaining the Hebrew type that he needed. In 1882, he organized a society for aiding Jewish immigrants, which in 1890 merged with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS). In 1901, he visited Palestine and became a major American fundraiser for the Jewish community there; two years later, he chaired the committee to aid victims of the Kishinev pogrom. Sarasohn died at 69 in 1905. His son Yehezkiel maintained the publishing business for an additional two decades.

"Just as generations of Lutherans and Catholics looked to their predecessors in America for guidance, so Eastern European Jews looked to Reform Jews... Kasriel Sarasohn... once held up the youth activities and 'enlightened methods' of the Reform congregation Rodef Shalom of Philadelphia as 'a brilliant example for my orthodox brethren to emulate.'" —Jonathan D. Sarna