The Forward: All the News in Yiddish (& English & Russian)
The Forward Building (1911) at 173 East Broadway was the home of the The Jewish Daily Forward (Forverts), a popular Socialist Yiddish Newspaper geared towards East European immigrants.
This ten-story building has been restored to its original grandeur and is being used for residential condominiums (see www.forwardbuilding.net). Medallion sculptures of famous socialists are set over the building entrance next to the engraved words "THE FORWARDS." The Yiddish letters "Forwards" in gold adorn the top of the building underneath a huge clock that lights up at night.
The Forward Building
Photo copyright Jeffrey Altman. All rights reserved.
The "Bintel Brief" — Sample Columns
The paper, which still exists today, features a "Bintel Brief" column (literally a 'bundle of letters') where readers are able to send in questions an receive answers on any pressing issues facing them. A look back today at this column serves as a window in to the life of the immigrants. To follow are some condensed questions and answers to some of the topical issues facing immigrants.
I am in this country for a short time after leaving my blind father with a stepmother back in Russia. I had promised to send them money as soon as I can. I just found a job and I don't know how long it will last. Now that I have a few dollars in my pocket should I send it home or keep it for some security?
He should send the money to his blind father. The father will not be able to earn an income but the young man will.
I recently met a good girl but there is a problem. She has a dimple in her chin and people say that if someone has this their husband will die early. At first I did not believe this, but I have seen this to be true. When I meet a woman that has this dimple her husband dies early. So I don't know if I should keep on seeing this girl — please help me.
The problem is not that a girl has a dimple on her chin, but that some people have a loose screw in their head! What genius can explain how a dimple can cause a spouse to die? Does the Angel of Death sit hiding in the dimple? It is shameful that a man brought up in America should ask such questions. Let him know that many women with dimples have lived long happy lives with their husbands.
A pogrom took place in Bialystok where my old parents and a sister with three children live. Should I try to bring them here, or go there and help my brothers in their struggle? If I knew what would happen I would have never left. I was the one that always encouraged people to stay in Russia. I feel like a liar and a coward — I don't know what to do.
If the question were asked before leaving we would advise to stay — but once someone is here we would suggest to remain. Bring over the family, and they will find many ways that can get help here.
We have five children in my family. I am the oldest at 14 and my mother is pregnant. My father is not so well and only earns 5 dollars a week. I do very well in school but I would like to leave so that I can help with my family's income. My mother and father work so hard to take care of my family and the three boarders staying in our home. My mother is completely against this and wants me to stay in school and to get an education. What do you think that I should do?
The girl should stay in school. This will make your parents happier then working.
I have been without a job for 6 months. I am finished with the last shirt on my back and I have nothing to do but to end my life. I get up at four in the morning to look for a job. I have no money for carfare so I walk. By the time I get there, hundreds are on line ahead of me. I spend five cents a day on food, now I can't even do that. I have no strength to continue.
I am an iron worker I can also work a milling machine and a drill press.
If I would of known this would happen I never would have come. What can I do now? Please comrades help me do not let me die this way.
We receive hundreds of similar requests daily. This person should go to 333 Eldridge Street where they will not let him starve. We also ask our readers if they can find a job for this man.