Ten years ago this week, the Jewish Daily Bulletin, in the form of a tiny, two-column, four page paper, made its initial appearance in New York as the first and only English daily record of Jewish news.
It appeared at a time when the question of an enlarged Jewish Agency for Palestine was being widely argued; when the American Committee on Jewish Refugees was perplexed over what to do with ten thousand or so refugees; when the question of Jewish colonization in the Crimea was a subject for heated debate; when Mexico, Argentina and Canada were being considered for Jewish immigration and The Haint, in Warsaw, pointed to the fact that Palestine was being considered as a refuge for homeless Jews as proof that “Palestine is no longer a Zionist Utopia.”
In Germany, Adolf Hitler had just gone through his unsuccessful Munich beer putsch and Austria and Bavaria had both hastened to deny him rights of citizenship.
In Palestine, a naturalization law conferring citizenship on Jews and non-Jews alike, after two years’ residence, was about to be announced. Sir Herbert Samuel, Palestine High Commissioner, had just denied reports that the Transjordan would be annexed to Palestine.
In Budapest, the Jewish deputy, Bela Fabian, incensed by insults from the anti-Semitic benches in the parliament, had challenged a leader of the Awakening Magyars to a duel. Attacks on Jews had been reported in Austria and Hungary. And in Poland, committees of orthodox Jews had been formed to supervise women’s dress and guard against such immoralities as short sleeves.
In Lithuania, the Jewish community was preparing to issue a “Black Book on Jewish Autonomy in Lithuania” listing the decrees destructive of the Jewish position. In Tacoma, Wash., America’s “Dreyfus Affair” had just come to a satisfactory conclusion with the vindication of Captain Rosenbluth. And John W. Davis, Democratic nominee for the presidency, in a speech at Rochester, had extolled the Jewish Day of Atonement and denounced religious and racial prejudice.
On the whole, it was a quiet period except for the disorders and troubles in the traditionally vexatious sore-spots on the map. The general tenor of Jewish life as reflected in America, was as normal and healthily constructive as it ever had been.
A DAILY SURVEY
It was into this scene that the Jewish Daily Bulletin unobtrusively crept in October, 1924, with the announced intention of offering its readers “a daily survey of Jewish and non-Jewish public opinion throughout the world” and to acquaint them “with the manifold activities and undertakings of Jews throughout the world.”
Pledging that it “will be independent, it will not propagate any particular philosophy or theory or tendency. It will limit itself to the presentation of facts,” The Bulletin’s “Statement of Purpose,” published in its first issue, pointed out that “by giving Jewish news in the right proportions, it (The Bulletin) will enable all thinking Jews and non-Jews to perceive Jewish conditions in their true perspective.”
That The Bulletin’s publisher, Jacob Landau, was not incorrect in his belief that some such medium as The Jewish Daily Bulletin was vital to American Jewish life was proven by the response which greeted the paper on its appearance.
The printing order of the first issue of The Bulletin was six hundred copiesâ€”most of which were sent out as samples to acquaint the public with the new paper. In the span of a few months, The Bulletin was going into the homes and offices of almost every Jewish leader and public-minded Jew in the country.
It gave them daily, in the spread of its four tiny pages, a bird’s eye view, a daily appraisal of the Jewish position throughout the world. And it put at their finger-tips, a wealth of information essential to the functioning of Jewish agencies.
‘WHO’S WHO’ ROSTER
The Bulletin was only a matter of a few months old when it was able to announce proudly that “the roster of subscribers to the Jewish Daily Bulletin reads like a Who’s Who of American Jewry.” And this was no exaggeration. Today, The Bulletin still numbers among its subscribers hundreds of American Jews who have read the paper since its very first days. And The Bulletin is proud also of the fact that several of the men and women who were with it at the start, are still members of its staff.
On March 29, 1926, readers of The Bulletin were informed that the paper was about to jeopardize its title to being “the smallest newspaper in the world” and would appear on April 1 in a larger format.
On that date, The Bulletin made its appearance as a three-column newspaperâ€”the size it retained until April 23, 1933, when the Weekend Edition was commenced as a tabloid-size, twelve-page newspaper, supplementing the smaller daily Bulletin.
What position the Jewish Daily Bulletin had grown to fill in American Jewish communal life was convincingly revealed by the Jubilee Edition of fifty-six pages, published on February 21, 1928 as the one thousandth edition of the paper.
In that edition, which also celebrated the ninth aniversary of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Mr. Landau, the guiding figure in both ventures was able to state proudly:
“The Jewish Daily Bulletin, we are glad to say, has come to stay. We are particularly fond of the fact that the newspaper has found many readers and friends in every section, group and party in American Jewry. We are encouraged by the fact that there is not a single community in the United States where the Jewish Daily Bulletin has not acquired faithful readers and devoted friends.”
Publication of The Bulletin in the three-column format was continued until April, 1933. During that time it continued to “further a better understanding of Jewish conditions and problems; to inform each part of the Jewish community at large and every community in particular of what the other sections or communities are doing, and to relate all events accurately and promptly,” as Mr. Landau had pledged in a re-affirmation of The Bulletin’s purpose in the Jubilee Edition.
In 1933, the sadly changed aspects of Jewish lifeâ€”largely the result of the Hitler triumph in Germanyâ€”and its effects, not only on Jewish social and communal life here, but also on the minds of tens of thousands of individual Jews, influenced the editors and publisher of the Jewish Daily Bulletin to broaden the publication’s scope and seek a wider field. By bringing to American Jews, and particularly the younger American Jews a means of getting into closer touch with the Jewish blood-stream, and by awakening or strengthening their consciousness, it was felt The Bulletin could perform a tremendous service to the Jewish cause.
In its enlarged size, The Bulletin was able to extend its field considerably. It recruited the mighty pens of Abba Hillel Silver, the brilliant Cleveland rabbi; of Ralph D. Blumenfeld, the famous “R. D. B.” of British journalism; of Joseph Leftwich, capable London editor; of Georg Bernhard, former editor of Berlin’s Vossische Zeitung; Harry Salpeter, of the old New York World, and others, including Hans Kohn, whose weekly articles did much to orient hundreds in the realm of world politics.
To the Bulletin’s columns these gifted men each brought their analyses of the various problems confronting the Jews and their suggestions for meeting them. To countless readers of The Bulletin, their words came as welcome guidance out of troublesome perplexities.
The Bulletin, in conjunction with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, sent Miss Dorothy Thompson (Mrs. Sinclair Lewis) to Germany in the Spring of 1933, for an honest, impartial survey of Jewish conditions there. And primarily through publication in the pages of The Bulletin, Miss Thompson’s magnificent expose of the brutalities and horrors practiced by the Hitlerites, which substantiated the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reports The Bulletin had featured, greatly stimulated the flow of indignation with which the civilized world greeted the spectacle of horror revealed in the Third Reich.
FULL TABLOID SIZE
The Bulletin took its greatest step forward on January 16 of this year when it stepped out of its three-column daily dress and adopted for its daily editions the five-column tabloid size with a minimum of eight pages daily. Herman Bernstein, well-known editor and former American Minister to Albania, was first editor of the enlarged paper.
The new Jewish Daily Bulletin made its appearance at a time when a comprehensive survey of Jewish conditions had become most imperative. The rapid tide of events and the necessity for interpretation, as well as presentation of all the news had grown to exceed the physical scope of the small Bulletin. The tragedy of Germany had necessitated a reorientation on the part of many Jews. In this, the enlarged Bulletin could be most helpful and it is to this end that The Bulletin has been in large part directed.
The position that the Jewish Daily Bulletin occupied in the American Jewish scene was strikingly shown at the ceremonies launching the new venture.
Professor Albert Einstein left his secluded Princeton retreat to visit. The Bulletin plant and set the first line of type for the enlarged paper. President Roosevelt, Governor Lehman, Mayor LaGuardia and hosts of others sent greetings to the new member of the family of full-size metropolitan dailies. And over six hundred outstanding members of the American Jewish community and the world of journalism attended the luncheon marking the inauguration of a new era in the life of the Jewish Daily Bulletin and a new epoch in the history of Jewish journalism.
The Jewish Daily Bulletin has reached its tenth birthday. It has consistently sought to observe the policies laid down by its publisher and which may be re-stated here.
“The Jewish Daily Bulletin will continue to report impartially, concisely and authentically all Jewish news. It will be independent. It will be a clarion call to the young American Jew, who is growing up uninformed on contemporary Jewish life, guiding him to a proper understanding of his people and stimulating his consciousness of and responsibility to the Jewish community. It will acquaint its readers with the manifold activities and undertakings of Jews throughout the world and will endeavor to set Jewish conditions in their true perspective before its readers.
“The paper will not preach any philosophy of Jewish life but will stand squarely for all measures which will secure the survival of the Jewish people. It will endeavor to be the bulwark against the many disintegrating influences