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From the Bund to the Bern: Yiddish Socialism for the 21st Century

This course was offered in Winter/Spring, 2017.

Bund and BernieThe year 2017 marks the 120th anniversary of the founding of both the Jewish Bund and the Zionist movement, and the centennial of the Russian Revolution. This auspicious convergence of historical dates, plus the recent presidential campaign by Bernie Sanders, will be illuminated in a day-long Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring of No. CA forum February 25th in Berkeley. The day will feature talks by speakers well-versed in the history of these socialist convergences and splits among Yiddish-speaking and Jewish followers, and we will explore their legacy for today's political activists. Books, food, and musical offerings will also nourish and inspire continued progressive activism.

Sponsored by the Workmen's Circle/Arbeter Ring of Northern California

Schedule of Events

  • 9:00 am — Registration

  • 9:30 – 10:45 — Opening Panel
    Jews and Yiddish Socialism in Historical Perspective: Continuities and Changes
    Tony Michels, Barbara Epstein, Hershl Hartman, Marvin Zuckerman, Diana Scott, introduced and moderated by Elaine Leeder

  • 10:45 – 11:00 — Coffee break

  • 11:00 - 12:00 — Keynote
    Tony Michels - How the Russian Revolution Shaped and Reshaped American Jewish Politics

  • 12:00-1:00 pm — Lunch (reserved, available for purchase)
    Book sale, musical interlude

  • 1:00 – 2:15 pm — Breakout Sessions
    -Barbara Epstein – Zionism and the early socialist left in Europe
    -Diana Scott – Socialism and Jewish cultural autonomy: language vs. land

  • 2:30 – 3:45 pm — Breakout Sessions
    -Marvin Zuckerman – The Jewish Labor Bund in interwar Poland
    -Hershl Hartman – Splits in the Yiddish-speaking Socialist movement

  • 4:00 – 5:00 pm — Closing Panel
    From the Bund to Bernie’s campaign – Lessons and Legacies
    Tony Michels, Barbara Epstein, Hershl Hartman, Marvin Zuckerman, Diana Scott, introduced and moderated by Elaine Leeder

  • 5:00 – 6:00 pm — Music
    -Mama Loshn - Yiddish concert & sing-along


# Sessions
Date & time

Saturday, February 25
9:00 am - 6:00 pm

$10 early registration

$12 at the door
Pre-registration strongly encouraged
Box lunch is available. Please reserve in advance at lonepine44@gmail.com — payment due at event

Session Time Days Location Instructors
Feb 25 9:00 AM–6:00 PM Sat Berkeley City College Barbara Epstein Diana Scott Elaine Leeder Hershl Hartman Marvin Zuckerman Tony Michels


Berkeley City College

2050 Center Street

Berkeley, CA 94704


Barbara Epstein

Barbara EpsteinBarbara Epstein is Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness Department at U.C. Santa Cruz and author on the history of social movements, including 1991 book (UC Press), Political Protest and Cultural Revolution: Nonviolent Direct Action in the 1970s and 1980s. Her most recent book is The Minsk Ghetto, 1941-1943: Jewish Resistance and Soviet Internationalism (UC Press, 2008). She has been involved in the socialist left since she was fourteen years old.

Hershl Hartman

Hershl HartmanHershl Hartman is the author of secular booklets on Jewish holidays “For the Rest of Us,” and a contributor to Yiddishkeit: Jewish Vernacular and the New Land (Abrams, 2011). A professional Yiddish/English translator, he has translated and co-edited UCLA’s online anthology of L.A. Yiddish literature, and is a secular Jewish vegvayzer/Leader as well as educator at the Sholem Community school in Los Angeles. He is the first native-born Yiddish newspaper reporter in the U.S., writing for the Morgn Frayhayt.

Elaine Leeder

Elaine LeederElaine Leeder (co-organizer of this event) is a Professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University. She is the author of The Gentle General: Rose Pesotta, Anarchist and Labor Organizer (SUNY, 1994). In the course of writing that book she was able to interview several dozen socialists and anarchists living on the Lower East side of NYC. She is an avid swimmer.

Tony Michels

Tony MichelsTony Michels is the George L. Mosse Professor of American Jewish History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research focuses on Jewish political and cultural history. He is author of A Fire in Their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists in New York (Harvard Univ. Press, 2005), winner of the Salo Baron Prize from the American Academy for Jewish Research, and the editor of Jewish Radicals: A Documentary History (NYU Press, 2012). He is co-editor of the journal, Jewish Social Studies, and his articles have appeared in the Forward, The Marginalia Review of Books, Guilt & Pleasure Quarterly, and other publications. Most recently, his article, “Bernie Sanders and the History of American Socialism,” appeared in Jacobin. Michels is completing a book on the impact of the Russian Revolution on American Jewish life.

Diana Scott

Diana ScottDiana Scott (co-organizer of this event), has served since 2008 as chairmentsh of Northern California’s Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring (“Maurice Savin” Branch 1054), and previously on the national WC/AR Board. With an interest in Yiddish political and cultural history here and in Eastern Europe, she has organized many educational events sponsored by the branch. An advocacy journalist and former dance critic (writing for the New York Times, the Hartford Courant, the Hartford Advocate, San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Bay Guardian), she is a contributing writer to Jewish Currents.

Marvin Zuckerman

Marvin ZuckermanMarvin Zuckerman is Professor Emerita of English and Yiddish at Los Angeles Valley College, where he chaired the English Department and was Dean of Instruction, retiring in 2002. His articles include a literary biography of Yiddish poet and translator Yehoash; an account in Yiddish of the Yiddish anarchist movement and its leader, Rudolph Rocker; a piece on I.B. Singer, and one on “Capitalism with a Mentshlekh Ponem.” He has translated Yiddish poetry, and the just-published memoir, Twenty Years with the Jewish Labor Bund (Purdue, 2016) by Bund militia leader Bernard Goldstein (Unser Tsait, 1960).