The Jewish Daily Forward celebrated its 80th anniversary today with a gala “simcha” attended by some 800 trade unionists, leaders of Jewish organizations, members of the newspaper’s staff and its readers.
“The Forward is more than a newspaper,” Simon Weber, editor of the paper which is the oldest and largest Yiddish daily in the world, told the audience at the New York Hilton. He and other speakers described the Forward’s beginnings on April 22, 1897 as a Socialist newspaper in opposition to Daniel De Leon, then head of the Socialist Labor Party, through its leadership in the trade union movement and its role in educating Jewish immigrants to its support of Israel and the Histadrut in the post World War II period.
The newspaper, which published a special 120 page anniversary edition today, will not appear tomorrow. Harold Ostroff, general manager of the Forward Association which publishes the newspaper said this was so all of the employees could attend the anniversary luncheon.
PRESERVER OF JEWISH CULTURE
Weber stressed the role of the Forward as a preserver of Jewish culture. He noted that every leading Yiddish journalist and writer has appeared in its pages. Two of the Forward’s most famous living writers were on the dais, I.B. Singer and Chaim Grade. Weber also pointed to the newspaper’s leadership in trade unionism and said “If we live better today than did our grandparents and parents” it is because of the union leaders whom the Forward supported. On the dais was David Dubinsky, former president of the International Lodies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU).
Weber also noted the Forward’s role as a Socialist newspaper and declared that the Jews who fled from Czarist Russia during the period the Forward was founded knew something which many on the left still have not learned: “Socialism without freedom is not socialism.”
Israel Breslow, president of the Forward Association, said that the Forward raised $500,000 during the last two years to make up its deficit. He said 70 percent of this came from its readers and 30 percent from trade unions and other sources.
Sol C. Chaikin, ILGWU president, noted that his union was organized only three years after the Forward was founded and said that the newspaper was “part and parcel of the struggle” of the trade union movement. He said all those in the United States who believe that workers should share in the productivity of their work “owe a debt of gratitude” to the Forward “which we can never repay.” He urged the Yiddish newspaper to take the leadership in bringing Blacks, Hispanics and others into the trade union movement as it did Jews and other immigrant groups in the past.
In keeping with its long-time support of the labor movement, Ostroff announced that paper napkins and tablecloths were used at the anniversary banquet because the hotel would not ensure the Forward that its linen was not made by the J.P. Stevens Co., the present target of a nationwide union boycott.
CONGRATULATIONS FROM CARTER
President Carter sent the Forward a telegram of congratulations which said that “newspapers such as yours have played a vital role in building America.” Telegrams were also read from Premier Yitzhak Rabin, former Premier Golda Meir and AFL-CIO president George Meany.
Mayor Abraham Beame proclaimed today as Jewish Daily Forward Day. In his proclamation he called the Yiddish newspaper “a pioneering force seeking social, economic and political justice for all, even as it has made rich contributions to the cultural heritage of the Jewish people both at home and abroad.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.