Joe Salsberg

Joe Salsberg: A Life of Commitment

GERALD TULCHINSKY
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 232
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt5hjxmr
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  • Book Info
    Joe Salsberg
    Book Description:

    Tulchinsky employs historical sources not used before to explain how Salsberg's family life and surrounding religious and social milieu influenced his evolution as a Zionist, an important labour union leader, a member of the Communist Party of Canada, and a prominent member of Toronto's Jewish community.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6531-6
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface: Spadina
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    Gerald Tulchinsky
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-2)
  5. Chapter One From Lagow to Toronto
    (pp. 3-22)

    When Sarah-Gitel Salsberg, her son, Yosef Baruch, and baby daughters, Pearl and Lillian, reached Toronto’s old Union Station on a summer’s day in 1913 to join Abraham, husband and father, in their new Canadian home, they were at the end of a long and harrowing journey.¹

    Their old home in Lagow, a shtetl in the Opatow district of Radom Gubernia, then part of Congress Poland ruled by Russia, lay thousands of miles behind them. Lagow’s Jews numbered about 1200, roughly half the town’s population, and lived by buying and selling at local markets and fairs, and from crafts and trades,...

  6. Chapter Two Party Maverick
    (pp. 23-40)

    Even though he was no longer affiliated with Zionist organizations, Joe Salsberg remained a Jewish cultural nationalist while adhering to Moscow’s rejection of the Zionist enterprise aimed at creating a Jewish national home in Palestine under the British Mandate. The Communist Party of Canada’s (CPC) position followed that line,¹ which, Jonathan Frankel points out, “condemn[ed] Zionism as a colonialist enterprise ... [and] as an integral part of British imperial policy,” and urged the Arabs “to wage the war for national liberation.”² The position taken by the CPC was that the Zionist movement was the expression of “the Jewish bourgeoisie and...

  7. Chapter Three Labour Stalwart and Political Novice
    (pp. 41-66)

    Joe Salsberg now became a key figure in the Workers’ Unity League (WUL), a revolutionary labour front intended to replace the Trade Union Educational League, which had existed since 1920. The WUL was a product of the “Third Period” of the communist movement, which, between 1928 and 1935, in Bryan Palmer’s words, “stressed ... the radicalization of the masses and that the task before workers was to foment revolution.” ¹ The WUL was formed by the Communist Party of Canada (CPC) in December 1929 as the umbrella under which it would “organize the unorganized” in all industrial sectors that traditional...

  8. Chapter Four “From a Human Point of View”
    (pp. 67-94)

    Joe Salsberg’s twelve-year career in the Ontario legislature from 1943 to 1955 as member for St Andrew gave him ample room to pursue the goals of social and economic justice inherent in his collectivist ideals. Destined to exclusion from a governing party, Salsberg, until 1951 in company with the feisty Cape Breton–born Alexander A. “Alex” MacLeod (1902–70), who represented the neighbouring mixed ethnic riding of Bellwoods, was the government’s most dogged critic, the member who with astonishing tenacity and patience single-mindedly pointed out shortcomings in bills before the House, as he once put it, from “a human point...

  9. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  10. Chapter Five Family Quarrel
    (pp. 95-119)

    By the mid-1950s, then, Joe Salsberg was at a crossroads. His political career had been terminated, never to be renewed. And although this must have been a serious disappointment in one who felt that he had given so much to the public welfare, he was more concerned with anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union and throughout the communist block in Eastern Europe. Not only had Jewish culture been suppressed under Stalin, but his successors seemed determined to continue that policy. Salsberg believed that the communist family had rejected him and other Jewish devotees of the great cause – and it broke his...

  11. Chapter Six: Still Counselling Otherwise
    (pp. 120-138)

    Never a full-fledged Leninist, or a compliant member of the Communist Party of Canada, Joe Salsberg had nevertheless been loyal to the cause – in his own way. Unlike most of his comrades, he was not “Moscow trained … literally nor figuratively, i. e., shaped by Moscow’s agents, in a party that was not a cipher of the Kremlin.”¹ Though “a fine, practical trade unionist but not a great Leninist,” according to some, however, he suffered from “theoretical shallowness.” He was immensely likeable – even loveable – to the many who called him Yosele, and one journalist observed that “he was that rare...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 139-172)
  13. Index
    (pp. 173-183)