The Jewish Advance
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The Jewish Advance [LCCN sn 90053038] was a progressive Jewish English- and German-language newspaper published weekly in Chicago between 1878 and 1881. It was the second Jewish publication in Chicago following the Occident [LCCN sn 93057051], established in the earlier 1870s. Edited by Henry Gersoni, a progressive rabbi and journalist, and printed by Jewish-German community leader Max Stern—who periodically worked for the Chicago Daily Tribune [LCCN sn 84031492]—the paper focused on Jewish community and service in Chicago. Gersoni was no stranger to publishing or reform: born 1844 in Russia, he studied at a rabbinical seminary before being banished as a political enemy. From there he studied in Germany and Paris before coming to America in 1869. In the US, he translated, preached, and wrote for newspapers such as the Jewish Times [LCCN sn 95068505]. He was a prolific writer and translator of a half-dozen languages; publishing the short story collection Sketches of Jewish Life and History and an acclaimed Hebrew translation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Excelsior". In 1876 he took a job preaching for a congregation in Chicago, but resigned months after founding the Advance, claiming that the synagogue was not accepting of his "reform principles".
One of the Advance's key goals was to increase synagogue attendance, which they did by not only publishing synagogue information but that of lodges, ladies' societies, and sewing circles. In the year of its founding there were approximately twelve Jewish congregations in Chicago—many without rabbis—hosting at total around 500 members of the city's Jewish population of 10,000. The paper also focused greatly on charitable acts, from helping the poor to opening more Jewish schools. After the city's first Jewish hospital was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, the Advance helped the United Hebrew Relief Foundation raise funds for its replacement, Michael Reese Hospital. In January 1881, Gersoni also launched the Maccabean, a monthly magazine devoted to the same causes as the Advance. However, he may have overestimated the market for progressive Jewish periodicals: the Maccabean failed after only five issues, and the Advance suspended publication in October 1881. Faced with delinquent subscribers and immense financial difficulties, it never resumed print. Fed up with periodicals, Gersoni moved back to New York in 1882, where he continued translating until his death in 1897. Max Stern continued printing even as he took leadership roles with the North Side Turners, B'nai B'rith, and the Chicago Board of Education.