Unzer Wort (Our Word), the last Yiddish daily newspaper in the world, is closing down at the end of the month, a half century after it was founded.
The decision to cease publication resulted from the newspaper’s inability to meet rising production costs at a time when readership has continued to decline.
Created in 1946 by Mapai, the forerunner of Israel’s Labor Party, to spread the Zionist message among Paris Jews, Unzer Wort’s early readers were mostly Eastern European immigrants who settled in France in the years surrounding World War II.
The four-page broadsheet, which had a circulation of about 1,500 in 1994, maintained a left-leaning editorial line since its birth. In the 1950s, it was one of three Yiddish dailies in Paris. The other two were owned by the Communists and the Bundist Jewish Socialists.
In recent years, with a shrinking readership and its staff reduced to about six people, helped by volunteers keen on preserving the dying language of Eastern European Jews, it had been forced to publish just three or four editions a week. Of France’s 750,000 strong Jewish community, more than half are Sephardim, who have origins in North Africa, where French and Arabic are spoken.