The Bintel Brief: Letters from Jewish Life on New York’s Lower East Side

On January 20, 1906, a new kind of newspaper column made its first appearance in the Forward, a Yiddish language newspaper published on New York’s Lower East Side. The column, known as the Bintel Brief, created an exchange between the reader and the press. In today’s world of social media, we call that user engagement. Back then, it came in the form of letters, a bundle of letters, the English translation of the column’s name. Readers wrote with their dilemmas and selected letters were published alongside an editorial response. Indeed, we have seen the formula again and again, but these letters were different, and so were the responses. They provide a window into the word of immigrant Jews. More than that, the letters provide timeless insights into the integration of immigrants in a new land.

Find out more about the Bintel Brief and resources for the classroom on our website Immigration and Identity: Jewish Immigrants and the Bintel Brief.

This project was made possible by funds granted by The Covenant Foundation. The statements made and the views expressed, however, are solely the responsibility of the authors.

Selected music courtesy Rodrigo Rodriguez/ and Joey Weisenberg and the Hadar Ensemble/