NEW YORK — Simon Weber, retired editor of The Forward, the Yiddish newspaper that strived to preserve the Jewish culture of Eastern Europe and published the works of Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, has died. He was 77.
Weber died Tuesday at Beth Israel Hospital from complications of a back injury he suffered in a fall two years ago, said his wife, Sylvia.
A native of Poland who came to this country as a teen-ager, Weber joined the newspaper 48 years ago and worked his way up from reporter to top editor, said Mordecai Strigler, who became editor after Weber retired last summer.
The newspaper, which celebrated its 90th anniversary last May, helped Jewish immigrants understand the often confusing life they found in America. In doing so, it became a victim of its own success, as the number of people reading Yiddish dwindled.
It once had a daily circulation of 238,000, but five years ago it switched to weekly publication. Its circulation is currently about 20,000.
For Weber, The Forward's first mission was to preserve the remnants of the great Yiddish culture of Eastern Europe that was devastated by the Nazis. "This way the readers will have some idea of who their grandparents were," Weber told the New York Times earlier this year.
The Forward is still the first place to read the stories of the Polish-born Singer, who won the 1978 Nobel Prize for literature for his works, written in Yiddish.
Weber had said it had become increasingly difficult to find writers in Yiddish, a mixture of languages including medieval German dialect and Hebrew and written in Hebrew script, who have something to say.
In addition to his wife, survivors include a daughter and a son.