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1929: Mapping the Jewish World

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Winner of the 2013 National Jewish Book Award, Anthologies and CollectionsThe year 1929 represents a major turning point in interwar Jewish society, proving to be a year when Jews, regardless of where they lived, saw themselves affected by developments that took place around the world, as the crises endured by other Jews became part of the transnational Jewish consciousness. In the United States, the stock market crash brought lasting economic, social, and ideological changes to the Jewish community and limited its ability to support humanitarian and nationalist projects in other countries. In Palestine, the anti-Jewish riots in Hebron and other towns underscored the vulnerability of the Zionist enterprise and ignited heated discussions among various Jewish political groups about the wisdom of establishing a Jewish state on its historical site. At the same time, in the Soviet Union, the consolidation of power in the hands of Stalin created a much more dogmatic climate in the international Communist movement, including its Jewish branches. Featuring a sparkling array of scholars of Jewish history, 1929 surveys the Jewish world in one year offering clear examples of the transnational connections which linked Jews to each other - from politics, diplomacy, and philanthropy to literature, culture, and the fate of Yiddish - regardless of where they lived. Taken together, the essays in 1929 argue that, whether American, Soviet, German, Polish, or Palestinian, Jews throughout the world lived in a global context.Hasia Dineris Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History, Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. She is the author of the award-winningWe Remember with Reverence and Love: American Jews and the Myth of Silence after the Holocaust, 1945-1962(NYU Press, 2009).Gennady Estraikhis Associate Professor of Yiddish Studies, Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University.In theGoldstein-Goren Series in American Jewish History

    eISBN: 978-1-4798-7825-3
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Conventional thinking about Jewish history has pivoted around a number of key dates, going from 70 CE with the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem by the Romans to 1492 and the expulsion from Spain. Most commentators would agree that 1881 with the outbreak of the pogroms in the Czarist empire, 1933 and the rise of Adolf Hitler to power, and finally 1948 and the declaration of the State of Israel as a sovereign Jewish state constitute the key years from which to imagine the flow of Jewish historical time. Many also regard 1967 as a dividing line, as the...


    • 1 Living Locally, Organizing Nationally, and Thinking Globally: The View from the United States
      (pp. 11-26)

      The 1929 volume of theAmerican Jewish Yearbookincluded a lengthy obituary for Louis Marshall, a constitutional lawyer and American Jewish communal activist who died that year while attending a Zionist conference in Lausanne, Switzerland. Marshall, decidedly not a Zionist, had come in the 1920s to recognize the fact that except for Palestine, no place in the world existed to which mass Jewish migration might go and that the problems of east European Jewry had deteriorated to such a point that any solution trumped the unacceptable status quo.¹ ThatAJYobituary lauded Marshall as someone who had devoted his life...

    • 2 Jewish Diplomacy at a Crossroads
      (pp. 27-35)

      Three personal ends and one institutional beginning that took place within slightly more than a year of one another offer a way of understanding Jewish diplomacy in the year 1929. Those events, when taken together, symbolize the waning of one approach to a fundamental problem of modern Jewish politics and the rise of another to a hegemonic position in which it remains, despite rising doubts of late, to this day. The institutional beginning was the convening in Zürich, on 14 August 1929, of the Constituent Assembly of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, a public body whose formation had initially been...

    • 3 The Stalinist “Great Break” in Yiddishland
      (pp. 36-52)

      The year 1929 marked the end of a five-year “romantic” period in Soviet Jewish history. This period started around 1924, when the Soviet regime began to deal much more seriously with issues related to Jews, while previously the state and party apparatus responsible for Jewish affairs was involved largely with testing its propaganda function. In the early postrevolutionary period, the Bolsheviks did not formulate any consistent programs for economic and social work among the Jews, because they believed that traditional shtetl life (deemed “parasitic”) would quickly lose its footing in a productive socialist environment. This attitude did not reflect a...

    • 4 Permanent Transit: Jewish Migration during the Interwar Period
      (pp. 53-72)

      On a night in late April 1929 Benjamin M. Day, commissioner of immigration, attended a Passover Seder at Ellis Island, together with 150 people, many of them Jewish immigrants. According to theNew York Times, “he instructed all departments to lend every possible hand in permitting the fullest enjoyment of the festival in true holiday fashion.”¹ Passover is a joyful Jewish holiday. The parallel between the Exodus from Egypt to the promised land of Israel and the passage from Europe to the land of freedom was emphasized and celebrated at many Seder tables in America on this evening. Why did...

    • 5 Polish Jewry, American Jewish Immigrant Philanthropy, and the Crisis of 1929
      (pp. 73-92)

      It was a particularly cold morning on December 12, 1930, when thousands lined up in front of the Bank of United States on Orchard Street to withdraw their savings. Founded in 1913 by Jacob Marcus, the Bank of United States stood as a celebrated symbol of Jewish economic success. Holding over $268 million in deposits, the Bank of United States embodied the promise of America to four hundred thousand workingclass Jews who entrusted their money, and their organizations’ savings, spanning from large enterprises such as the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union to the smaller Brisker Relief Committee and otherlandsmanshaft...

    • 6 Jewish American Philanthropy and the Crisis of 1929: The Case of OZE-TOZ and the JDC
      (pp. 93-106)

      “It is very beautiful for Lord Rothschild, Sir Samuel Intone and other Europeans to pass the buck to us,” wrote Louis Marshall to Joseph Hyman. Marshall, the vice president of the Joint Distribution Committee and chairman of the Agro-Joint, continued in this letter to Hyman, the JDC’s vice chairman, “It would not do them much harm if they took off their coats and opened their purses to help people who are just as near to them as they are to us, instead of putting the entire burden upon the United States and to add to our numerous obligations at home,...

    • 7 Territorialism and the ICOR “American Commission of Scientists and Experts” to the Soviet Far East
      (pp. 107-124)

      Most of the world remembers the year 1929 for the New York stockmarket crash at the end of October, ushering in what became known as the Great Depression. For American Jewish Communists, though, there were other issues that same year perhaps more significant. Writing in May 1943, in the midst of World War II, Abraham (Ab.) Epstein, a prominent Jewish Communist, still remembered their effects:

      The year 1929. The whole capitalist world is enveloped by an economic crisis. Our own country is the hardest hit. The collection of money for relief becomes harder. This is one side of the coin....


    • 8 From Universal Values to Cultural Representations
      (pp. 127-138)

      1929 was a crucial year in the history of the Marxist movement in Eretz- Israel/Palestine. After a decade of stimulating circulation of Marxist ideology and the establishment of local Communist parties that were declared official branches of the world communist movement—the Comintern—by 1929, the Middle Eastern Marxist movement abruptly changed. The Comintern came to see eastern European Jewish Marxists, who engendered and stirred these processes, as a cultural impediment responsible for the scarce reception of Marxism beyond the elite intelligentsia. Realizing that Marxism had not trickled down to the Arab masses, the Executive Committee of the Comintern dictated...

    • 9 The Struggle over Yiddish in Postimmigrant America
      (pp. 139-154)

      In 1930, the first convention of the recently formedYidishe kulturgezelshaft(Yiddish Cultural Society) in New York provided the Yiddish journalist Bentsien Goldberg—the son-in-law of Sholem Aleichem—an opportunity to reflect on the differences between Yiddish culture in the United States and in eastern Europe. As Yiddish-speaking intellectuals discussed the future agenda of the society, which aimed to promote the growth of schools, publishing houses, periodicals, and other forms of Yiddish cultural activity in the United States, Goldberg mused that such an effort would not have even been plausible on the other side of the ocean. “In Vilna,” he...

    • 10 When the Local Trumps the Global: The Jewish World of São Paulo, Brazil, 1924–1940
      (pp. 155-168)

      I am not sure if 1929 was a particularly significant year for Jews in Brazil. 1930—perhaps? That year agolpe de estadobrought Getúlio Vargas to power, eventually leading to a protofascist dictatorship that had a profound impact on both Jewish immigration and images of Jews, both positive and negative. 1934 was also an important year for Jewish- Brazilians—Brazil instituted a quota system modeled along the U.S. National Origins Act of the previous decade. 1938 might also seem a year of great import—Brazil began an official ethnic homogenization campaign. And in 1942 Brazil joined the Allies and...


    • 11 Patterning a New Life: American Jewish Literature in 1929
      (pp. 171-184)

      The notion of delimiting the object of literary analysis to texts produced in a specific year—in this case, American Jewish texts produced in 1929—might make a critic conceive a project in two ways. One might tackle the project historically (or diachronically) in an attempt to determine how the American Jewish literature of 1929 arose, its causes, and its most historically significant aspects. One might also address it experientially (or synchronically), focusing not on change over time but rather on the depth of a single moment, attempting to reconstruct the literary culture, the intellectual or emotional texture of the...

    • 12 David Vogel: Married Life 1929
      (pp. 185-200)

      During the period of transition fromHaskalahliterature to the literature of the so-called revival (1880 to 1920), Jewish intellectuals, many of them writers, debated the future and nature of Hebrew literature, drawing up prescriptive lists of what the literature should or should not do. Questions of national ideology and Jewish tradition constituted central evaluative criteria in the process of literary canonization. Despite the fidelity to these criteria of poets, including Avraham Shlonsky and U. Z. Greenberg, by 1929 they were bringing about something of a modernist upheaval within Hebrew letters, in answer to H. N. Bialik’s colossal, but by...

    • 13 Radical Conservatism: Bashevis’s Dismissal of Modernism
      (pp. 201-216)

      In Warsaw in 1929, the publishing house of Boris Kletskin brought out a miscellany titledAmol in a yoyvl. Bearing the subtitlezamlbukh far beletristik, this volume contained a selection of poetry and prose by some of the leading Yiddish writers of the day, including Kadia Molodowsky, Rokhl Korn, Meylekh Ravitsh, and Yehoshue Perle. Also included was a short story titled “Shammai Vayts” by a twenty-five-year-old newcomer, Yitskhok Bashevis, whose work had already attracted some favorable comment. Though by no means the first of Bashevis’s stories to be published, this one was significant not only on account of the distinguished...

    • 14 Desire, Destiny, and Death: Fantasy and Reality in Soviet Yiddish Literature around 1929
      (pp. 217-234)

      1929 was the last year when texts that openly challenged the proletarian aesthetics could still appear in the Soviet Union, but this was also a year when a series of high-profile ideological campaigns against prominent writers made it clear that this kind of writing would not be tolerated any longer. In one way or the other, these ideological storms affected practically every Yiddish writer of note, including Leyb Kvitko and Der Nister, Lipe Reznik and Noah Lurye, Itsik Kipnis and Perets Markish.

      Markish’s two books about the revolution which appeared that year, the novelDor oys, dor ayn(A Generation...

  7. Index
    (pp. 235-242)
  8. Contributors
    (pp. 243-244)