At the turn of the 20th century, American Yiddish newspapers overflowed with advice columns offering implicit and explicit guidance to readers about how to live their lives. From the Forverts’ famous “A Bintel Brief” to more practical advice columns, such as Der tog’s “Letter Box” column, these publications printed countless letters from readers asking editors to help them navigate personal tribulations, American political infrastructures, and Jewish communal life.
Editors and publishers introduced these features to engage and entertain newspaper readers, as well as to increase circulation. But these features also encouraged audiences previously unaccustomed to reading newspapers to view these publications as central sources for information and guidance about acclimating to American life. Eventually, these interactions spilled off the page. Yiddish newspapers became so successful at marketing themselves as fountains of advice that they had to create open office hours and hire staff members whose job it was to correspond or meet with readers eager to receive personal counsel from their favorite papers.
In this talk, Ayelet Brinn will explore the crucial role of advice columns in the development of the Yiddish press, how these columns shaped the relationships between newspapers and their readers, and how central advice columns became to the acclimation process of new immigrants eager to learn more about American life.
This is a joint event of the Center for Jewish Studies at Fordham University and the Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies at Columbia University.
This event is open to alumni, faculty/staff, parents, students, and the public.