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October 7: The Bund

October 7, 2014
8a400850d71576f426b39654bd6bd334The Jewish Labor Bund was founded in Vilna by thirteen delegates on this date in 1897. Within seven years, the organization had 35,000 members, close to 5,000 of whom were arrested during those years by the Tsarist police. The Bund was dedicated to Yiddish, secular Jewish identity and local Jewish autonomy within the framework of socialist revolution. With its commitment to “doikayt” “hereness” — the concept that Jews were an international people who should work to change the world in the countries in which they lived — the Bund became the Zionist movement’s great rival for the hearts and minds of young Jews in pre-Holocaust Eastern Europe. It played a dynamic role in the Russian Revolution and was also a key force for Jewish anti-Nazi resistance, most powerfully in Poland. In the U.S., the Bund became an important source for Jewish leadership in the labor and socialist movements. “[B]etween Zionist activity and Socialist activity there is a fundamental and profound chasm.... A national home in Palestine would not end the Jewish exile.... All that would change would be the belief of Jewry in its future — the hope of the Jews in exile — the struggle for a better life would be snuffed out.” —Vladimir Medem, Bundist leader