Jewish Socialism in Russia

The organization and development of the Bund, the General Union of Jewish Workers.

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With the onset of political reaction, there was considerable decrease in the activity of the Bund, as of all other revolutionary parties. Some of its active members migrated to the United States, and others devoted themselves to the cultural activity in Yiddish. The eighth conference of the Bund (Lvov, 1910) called for a struggle for the rights of Yiddish as the language of the Jews even before the attainment of national autonomy. It also decided to participate in communal life as part of it struggle for secularization. The regime was called to grant the population the right to choose their own day of rest (Friday for Moslems, Saturday for Jews, Sunday for Christians). In 1912 the Bund was among the initiators for convening various sections of the Russian Social Democrats against the policy of Bolsheviks, who had declared their faction to constitute the entire party. This gathering, which was held in Vienna in August, recognized the principle of “cultural national autonomy” for which the Bund had been fighting for ten years and declared that it did not contradict the principles of the party. This was the first recognition by a large section of the Russian Social Democrats of a fundamental clause in the Bund program.

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Historian Shmuel Ettinger was the head of the Dinur Center for Research in Jewish History at Hebrew University until his death in 1998.