JEWISH SOCIALIST VERBAND


JEWISH SOCIALIST VERBAND, U.S. organization devoted to the promotion of democratic socialism and the strengthening of Jewish group life on the basis of modern Yiddish culture. The Jewish Socialist Verband [JSV] was founded in 1921 by a minority group of Yiddish-speaking activists who split off from the leftist Jewish Socialist Federation (itself founded in 1912), when the latter voted in a hotly contested decision to sever its relationship with the Socialist Party, and a majority of the JSF embraced Communism (in 1922 it was absorbed into what became the Communist Party USA).

Small numerically, and led by such individuals as Jewish Daily Forward editor Abraham Cahan and the Workmen's Circle's Nathan Chanin, it had a close identification with the Jewish leaders of the needle-trade unions, the Workmen's Circle, and the Forward. The JSV struggled to spread the gospel of social democracy and trade unionism, and combat Communist influence in the Jewish community.

The support it received from the Forward and the Workmen's Circle enhanced its status in the Jewish community and enabled it to play a role in the field of Yiddish culture. The JSV published Der Wecker, beginning in September 1922 and continuing until the 1980s, and operated Farlag Wecker, a publishing house.

While the JSV's approach to Jewish problems reflected the Bundist training and orientation of its leaders, as with much of the mainstream of the American Jewish labor movement, it gradually veered away from Bundist anti-Zionism; at a national convention in November 1967, for instance, it formally adopted a pro-Israel declaration.

The JSV was among the organizers of the Jewish Labor Committee and the World Congress for Jewish Culture. In the early 1970s, as part of a reorganization of socialist parties and non-party organizations in the United States, the JSV combined with a small group, the Union of Democratic Socialists, forming the JSV-UDS, which went on to merge with the Socialist Party of America in 1972. With the Socialist Party's disintegration a year later, the JSV began a relationship with the fervently anti-Communist Social Democrats, USA.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

J.S. Hertz, Yidishe Sotsialistishe Bavegung in Amerike (1954). ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: American Jewish Year Book (1987); anon., Old American Jewish Red Groups [website] (2005); M. Epstein, Jewish Labor in the U.S.A., 2 vols. (1969); J. Holmes and A. Lebowitz, "Jewish Socialist Federation," in: Encyclopedia of the American Left (19982); A. Menes, "The Jewish Labor Movement," in: The Jewish People Past and Present, vol. 4 (1955).

[Charles Bezalel Sherman /

Arieh Lebowitz (2nd ed.)]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.