Yiddish literary and general-interest weekly published in Odessa from 23 October 1862 until 28 November 1872. Kol mevaser (The Herald) started out as a Yiddish supplement to the Hebrew-language newspaper Ha-Melits (The Advocate). From 20 May 1869 it was an independent “popular Jewish newspaper in the spoken tongue.” Its publishers were Aleksander Zederbaum, who also served as editor until the paper’s last years, and Aron-Yitskhok Goldenblum. The paper had more than 250 subscribers.
The editors of Kol mevaser believed that its main task was to enlighten its readers; they criticized communal institutions and called for (among other changes) educational reform, wider use of Russian, and a positive attitude toward army service. The Saint Petersburg Society for the Spread of Enlightenment, in spite of its opposition to Yiddish in principle, set out to use Kol mevaser for its own aims and had unsuccessful discussions with the publishers regarding financial support. In the second half of the 1860s, however, the paper became more critical both of Hasidism and of the Berlin school of the Haskalah; in time, it was hostile as well to Russification.
The leading figures in Russia’s Yiddish world contributed to Kol mevaser: the lexicographer Shiye Mordkhe Lifshits, the writers Sholem Yankev Abramovitsh (Mendele Moykher-Sforim), Yitskhok Yoyel Linetski, and Avrom Goldfadn (who published their first Yiddish-language works in its pages), and many others. In spreading new Yiddish literature and criticism and publishing extensive discussions about linguistic problems, Kol mevaser took the first practical steps toward modernizing and standardizing Yiddish, using as its basis the Volhynian dialect.
Kol mevaser was the first Jewish newspaper to publish writings by women. It introduced fees for authors, had local correspondents, and printed advertisements in Yiddish, Russian, and Hebrew. It also provided a financial base for Zederbaum’s other papers, the Hebrew Ha-Melits and the Russian Vestnik russkikh evreev (Herald of Russian Jews).
In January 1871, having moved to Saint Petersburg, Zederbaum appointed Mosheh Leib Lilienblum as editor; Lilienblum resigned in July. After unsuccessful negotiations with Abramovitsh, Eliezer Beilinson ran the newspaper in its last period. In 1873, Zederbaum tried without success to revive the newspaper, but issued just one number (27 November 1873).
Alexander Orbach, New Voices of Russian Jewry: A Study of the Russian-Jewish Press of Odessa in the Era of the Great Reforms, 1860–1871 (Leiden, 1980); Chone Shmeruk, Sifrut yidish: Perakim le-toldoteha (Tel Aviv, 1978); Israel Zinberg, A History of Jewish Literature (Cincinnati, 1978), vol. 9, pp. 102–110, 182–194.
Translated from Russian by I. Michael Aronson; edited by Avraham Greenbaum