Photo Credit: Israel Mizrahi

A nice find I had this week was a stack of issues of a notable American Jewish newspaper, Dos Yiddishe Licht. In 1923, two of the most prominent Orthodox Jews in the United States, Reb Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz and the Chazzan Yossele Rosenblatt, joined forces to finance and publish this newspaper. Published in both English and Yiddish, it served as a mouthpiece of Orthodox Jewry in the United States. R. Shraga would use the paper to urge the more careful observance of kashrut and mitzvot and inform the readers of news relating to the community. Rosenblatt gave $25,000 of his own funds to create the operation and R. Shraga borrowed $10,000 to fund it. Within a few years, though, the newspaper encountered intense financial difficulties. Rosenblatt, being a partner in the operation, albeit not intimately involved, was found liable for the debts the newspaper was incurring.

Despite being the highest paid chazzan in history at the time, Rosenblatt was forced to declare bankruptcy in 1925. By 1927 the newspaper folded, but Rosenblatt, despite having no legal obligation, continued to pay the debts incurred by the paper. To find the funds to appease the debts, Rosenblatt organized a concert tour through Europe followed by South America. In 1933, Rosenblatt traveled to Eretz Yisrael as part of the set of Dream of My People, a travelogue on Palestine featuring different scenes in the Holy Land with the chazzan performing relevant cantorial music. Traveling with his wife and two of his younger children, Yossele decided he would stay and try to settle in the land. On June 19, 1933, while filming in the Dead Sea area, he suffered a heart attack and passed away at the young age of 51.


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Israel Mizrahi is the owner of Mizrahi Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY, and He can be reached at [email protected].