MILWAUKEE – This October marks 75 years since the founding editor of The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, Nathan Gould, died after a cerebral hemorrhage at age 52.
Gould started The Chronicle in 1921 with partner Irving Rhodes, striving to unite the Jewish community in Milwaukee.
Starting his career as a lawyer, Gould earned his degree from the University of Michigan. There, he met Samuel Rhodes, brother of Irving Rhodes, who introduced him to his future business partner.
Gould and Irving Rhodes bought the Detroit Jewish Chronicle, and the paper’s success led them to establish other papers for Jewish communities in Kansas City and Indianapolis.
Gould detested Indianapolis and set his sights on moving to Milwaukee and starting a weekly paper there, according to a tribute written by Gould’s friend Robert Hess following Gould’s death.
According to Hess, Gould approached him about starting a paper in Milwaukee in 1920, asking what the chance of success might be. Hess invited him to lunch with the Sholom Aleichem Circle, which at the time was “a force, a power and a very fair representation of Jewish life in the community” to meet potential readers and advertisers, and “Nate came, Nate saw, Nate conquered,” Hess wrote.
The paper took off in December 1921, and “for two decades, ‘Irv’ was the man on the street, providing the wherewithal, and Nate was the man at the desk, giving the paper its tone, its dignity and his incomparable editorials,” Hess wrote.
Gould wrote every editorial appearing in the Chronicle for those two decades until he fell ill with a streptococcic infection six months prior to his death.
The paper had some tough years in the beginning.
“The reader may well imagine the antipathy of many to this new cultural and distinctly Jewish venture,” George Peizer, executive director of the Jewish Center of Milwaukee at the time of Gould’s death, wrote in tribute to Gould.
But Gould and Rhodes stuck with it.
“Philosopher, writer and speaker that (Gould) is, he has devoted throughout these years his energy, time and talents to every Jewish cause of importance,” Peizer wrote. “There is hardly a single communal undertaking which has not been aided by the gift of his pen, his pleading voice and his store of wisdom and understanding.”
According to Gould’s obituary, he was involved with the Gilead Lodge of B’nai B’rith, the Gymol Doled, the Home for Aged Jews, the Jewish Center, the Jewish Orphan Home, the Milwaukee Jewish Welfare Fund, Mount Sinai hospital, the Sholom Aleichem Club and the Zionist organization.
Gould’s surviving daughters, Sally Gould, of California, and Susan Fredrichs, of North Carolina, don’t remember their father’s community involvement or his mighty pen, but they do remember him spending time with them and their older sister, Gloria.
“I just remember that he was just wonderful,” said Fredrichs, who was 5 years old when he died.
Sally Gould recalls stopping by the Chronicle office and “driving everyone nuts” as a child.
She remembers the Temple Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun being completely packed for her father’s funeral in 1941.
Gould left a humble estate, but a lasting legacy.
“The small estate that he left after two decades of prodigious effort was truly proof of the fact that publishing an English-Jewish newspaper offered returns of a spiritual rather than financial nature,” Irving Rhodes wrote in 1966 on the 45th anniversary of the publication.
Irving Rhodes sold the paper to the Milwaukee Jewish Federation in 1972.
Today, 75 years after Gould’s death, The Chronicle continues in its mission to connect the Jewish community.