The Bintel Brief is a column in the Jewish Daily Forward, which was formed in 1906. During this time many Jewish immigrants have suffered a great deal of depression and anxiety because of being Jewish. Often separated from family and bewildered by life in a new country, thousands of Jewish immigrants wrote to the offices of the Jewish Daily Forward. Nothing like existed in the homeland. It seemed so American, so up-to-date, and so very needed. It was an advice column for the new Jewish immigrants, to help them with their new lives.
It was called the “Bintel Brief”, Yiddish language for “Bundle of Letters. ” The paper’s founder and editor was Abraham Cahan (1860-1951). Cahan formed the Bintel Brief to listen to the many Jewish immigrants from Russia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Middle East as they live life through hardships at the turn of the century and speak of issues through the experiences of the immigrants. Cahan would answer back with practical and sometimes very wise advice. His intended audience was mainly the immigrants of New York City.
Cahan’s commitment to social realism makes his work a valuable source for insight into ways in which immigrants perceived their situation. The Jewish Daily Forward did its part to bring familiarity and bring comfort to the Jewish immigrants, to give advice, to aid those in need, and to bring together the Jewish community in America. The main detectable bias in the source is that the immigrants were lonely and needed something to turn to. Abraham Cahan founded the Jewish Daily Forward and served as the editor until his death in 1951.
The major tensions of immigrant life that were revealed in the letters were the cries of help from the very poor, problems dealing with religion and discrimination, people dealing with job decisions. All the problems in the Bintel Brief are difficulties faced by immigrants and the consequences that they must face because of being who they are. Mothers were known to find their lost children through the Bintel Brief and many people lost their spouses due to discrimination. The Bintel Brief was there for any Jew to turn to if they needed it. Cahan’s responses were in likely for the Jewish immigrants.
These people needed someone to discuss their problems with. Cahan’s advice given was to improve the depression and hardships the person was having. Thousands of readers wrote to the editor, asking for help with a host of issues created by their effort to blend the customs and rituals of the old world with the practices and pressures of the new. In conclusion, his advice given in the Bintel Brief is similar to the advice in columns of today such as “Dear Abby” and daytime talk shows. His advice given today is always for the good of the people.
Courtney from Study Moose
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