The Forward has always been distinguished by its willingness to confront difficult issues and air unpopular views. This fearless conversation has become even more important as American Jews increasingly engage with Jewish concerns, ideas and community through the media. In English and Yiddish, in print and online, with text and multimedia, the Forward carries on its tradition of public service with a wider reach and greater impact than ever before.
This tradition of public service began when Abraham Cahan started publishing the Forward in Yiddish in 1897. Unlike other newspapers, it was never intended to be a money-making endeavor. It was founded, owned and operated by a membership organization called the Forward Association, and it remains so today. No profits have ever been distributed to owners or investors; every penny earned has been reinvested to carry out and extend its public-service mission.
This approach embodied the founders’ deep belief in the dignity of the individual and the power of collective action, as well as an abiding concern about the potential excesses of profit-driven corporations. The specific purpose of the Forverts, as a Yiddish-language daily, was to serve immigrant workers and tradespeople with essential news, advice, and opinion – helping them to become Americans. It fulfilled that commitment so successfully that the Forverts became the most widely-read Jewish newspaper in the world.
With the rise of radio as a mass medium, the Forward Association purchased a station in New York. WEVD became legendary as "the station that speaks your language," producing a variety of informational, musical, dramatic and entertainment programming. Listening to WEVD’s "Forward Hour" became a weekly ritual for hundreds of thousands of listeners every Sunday morning.
The Forverts had become more than a vital guide to taking part in American life; it was one of the most prominent Jewish cultural institutions in America. Its writers included the "poet of the sweatshops," Morris Rosenfeld; the novelist Sholem Asch; and future Nobel Prize laureates Isaac Bashevis Singer and Elie Wiesel.
The Forverts is still published in Yiddish today, both as a biweekly newspaper and as a multimedia website, still renowned as a source of news and analysis and a rich source of Jewish culture, both historical and contemporary. In 1990 it was joined by the weekly English-language Forward newspaper, which quickly established itself as the pre-eminent national Jewish newspaper in the United States.
Today, as in 1897, the Forward Association owns and publishes the Forward newspapers, responsible for their policies, assets and budgets. Its members elect a 12-member board of directors who hold fiduciary responsibility. Now, as always, the organization promotes and exemplifies values of Jewish peoplehood, Yiddish culture and social and economic justice.
Those values are shared and supported by thousands of individuals who make financial contributions to sustain the Forward’s award-winning, essential journalism. Advertising and subscription revenue covers only a fraction of the company’s costs; donations are essential to make up the difference. The Forward Association is recognized as a nonprofit organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and contributions are tax-deductible. Join our many members by making a donation here.