Rukhl Schaechter is named as first female editor of the "Yiddish Daily Forward"

March 9, 2016
by Grayson Hoffman

On March 9, 2016 the CEO and president of the Forward Association announced that Rukhl Schaechter would become the next editor of Forverts, or the Yiddish Daily Forward. She has been employed as a reporter for the paper since 1998 when then- editor, Boris Sandler, was looking for frishe koykhes (“fresh, young blood”). Although exciting in its own right, her promotion also marks the first time there will be both a female editor and an American-born editor of Forverts in its long history.

Established by founding editor, Abraham Cahan, in 1897, Forverts is the world’s oldest Yiddish newspaper that is still published. However, it has now become an entirely digital publication, which produces almost daily reports related to Yiddish language and culture.

Schaechter was born in the Bronx to a Romanian father and American-born mother. She and her siblings were raised with Yiddish as their first language. Their father, Mordkhe, was a Yiddish linguist, writer, and teacher. Growing up watching his dedication to the language and culture, naturally led Schaechter and her three siblings to careers involving Yiddish. Additionally, the siblings have raised their own children as Yiddish- speakers. To them, cherishing Yiddish is incredibly important. Schaechter calls it the “language of my heart” and each of her three sons speak with her exclusively in Yiddish.

After growing up in the Bronx, Schaechter got her bachelor’s degree in psychology at Barnard College in 1979, a second bachelor’s in Jewish literature at the Jewish Teachers Seminary-Herzliah and a master’s in early childhood education at Bank Street College. She went on to teach at Jewish day school in the Bronx and write Yiddish fiction stories and songs in her free time. These pieces led to her being hired as a reporter for Forverts.

As the current editor of Forverts, Schaechter will oversee an important moment in the paper’s history - the transition from a print and online publication to one that exists solely online in April 2019. The 2013 addition of an online element has already attracted a much greater audience for Forverts. By making the content more available through Facebook, YouTube, podcasts, translated articles, and subtitled videos, Yiddish-speakers and learners of all levels can enjoy the paper.

Schaechter is committed to sustaining the Yiddish language and culture and sees Forverts as an amazing way to do so. She understands that putting the paper’s resources fully behind an online version will widen Forverts’ audience further; it will reach more people - from those who want to learn the culture to those whose families lost Yiddish through Americanization. Aside from leading the oldest Yiddish newspaper, Schaechter speaks to groups across America and the world about Yiddish language and culture, Forverts, and the role the paper plays for Yiddish overall.

This entry was created for This Week in History as part of a course on the history of American Jewish women taught by Karla Goldman at the University of Michigan, Winter 2019.

Sources:After 122 Years in Print, The Forverts Moves Forward,” The Forward, February 13, 2019; “Boris Sandler Retires as Editor of Yiddish Forward,” The Forward, March 9, 2016; “Forverts – The Yiddish Forward,” Yiddish Sources; “Rukhl Schaechter Leads 'Forverts' into the Digital Age,” Tablet Magazine; “Yiddish has a word for it,” Jewish Standrad, July 14, 2016; “Rukhl Schaecter.”


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