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Mordechai Strigler, Editor of Yiddish Forward, is Dead

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Mordechai Strigler, a prolific Yiddish writer who was editor of the Yiddish Forward, has died at age 76.

Born in 1921 in Zamosc, Poland, Strigler was sent to study in a yeshiva at age 11. In 1937 he began work as a rabbi and teacher in Warsaw.

When the Germans occupied Poland in 1939, he tried to escape to Russia, but was caught at the border. He spent a few months at the Zamosc ghetto with his parents, and then five years in several concentration camps. In Buchenwald, he was a member of the Resistance and served as a covert teacher for the children incarcerated there. He was liberated on April 11, 1945.

After the war, he began writing furiously and prolifically for the next 53 years until his death. He chronicled the slave-labor camps and death factories in a six-volume Yiddish series called “Oysgebrente Likht,” which means “Extinguished Candles.”

In 1955, Strigler published two volumes called “Arm in Arm With the Wind,” a historical novel about Jewish life in Poland in the 17th and 18th centuries.

His newspaper career began in Warsaw just before the war and flourished at Paris after the war. In France, he served as editor of Unzer Vort (Our Word), a Yiddish daily.

While in New York, he was offered the editorship of the Kemfer, a position he held until 1995. He published such Yiddish writers as Abraham Reizen, H. Leivik, Chaim Grade and Jacob Glatstein.

In 1978, Strigler was awarded the Itzik Manger Prize in Jewish Literature, one of the most distinguished prizes in the field.

He became editor of the Yiddish Forward in 1987, following the retirement of Simon Weber, and he remained at the helm until last month.

He produced tens of thousands of dispatches, editorials, reviews and rabbinic responsa. The double editorship — of the Yiddish Forward and the Kemfer — was considered one of the more remarkable feats in American journalism.

“The death of Strigler marks not only a sad transition for his colleagues on the Yiddish, Russian and English editions of the Forward but also a milestone in the area of Yiddish-language journalism and the literature of the Holocaust,” the English-language Forward said in an obituary.

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