KADIMAH


KADIMAH, the first Jewish national students' association, established in Vienna in 1882. The founders and leaders of the Akademischer Verein Kadimah were Ruben *Bierer, a physician from Lemberg and the oldest of the group, Moritz Tobias *Schnirer, a student of medicine from Bucharest, and Nathan *Birnbaum. Under the impression of the Russian pogroms, they were united in the conviction that only "the struggle against assimilation and the fostering of Jewish peoplehood are a barrier against the destruction of Judaism." The three decided to found a Jewish students' association at Vienna University that would be "a center for the cultivation and dissemination of the national idea and a workshop for the development of Jewish leadership for the future." The group was greatly influenced by the Hebrew writer *Pereẓ Smolenskin, who was then living in Vienna and editing the nationalist monthly Ha-Shaḥar. He became friendly with the group and named it "Kadimah," with the double meaning kedmah – eastward, i.e., to Ereẓ Israel – and kidmah – forward. In autumn 1882 the association was founded in Bierer's house in Vienna, although the governmental permit for the organization was issued only in March 1883. Because of the watchful eye of the Vienna police, the aim of the association was defined as "cultivation of Jewish literature and scholarship to the exclusion of any political tendency." In secret, however, every new member was requested to adopt a credo of three points: struggle against assimilation, Jewish nationhood, and the settlement of the land of Israel as a means toward Jewish independence. At the first official meeting (May 5, 1883) Schnirer was elected to head the association and P. Smolenskin and J.L. *Pinsker, who inspired the association, were elected as honorary members.

Already in its first year the group established its own library and reading room, housing German and Hebrew books, and regularly organized talks on Jewish nationalist topics. The publication of the group, *Selbst-Emancipation! (renamed the Juedische Volkszeitung in 1894), was edited by N. Birnbaum and named after Pinsker's pamphlet *Autoemancipation! (1882), which was of great influence on its members.

The first act of the association was to paste posters in German and Hebrew on the walls of Vienna University that proclaimed loudly the message of Jewish nationhood. This step was a daring one, since the majority of the Jewish students as well as the Viennese Jewish bourgeoisie opposed Kadimah's program. The association was exposed to attacks, but many young people from both Eastern and Western Europe joined it. From its beginnings Kadimah adopted customs of traditional German student associations, like regular beer drinking (Kneipen) and assemblies (Kommers), and in the early 1890s even changed into a "dueling fraternity." By then Kadimah had become a central institution of Jewish national activity and an educational framework for many who later became associates of *Herzl. Following the example of Kadimah, Jewish-nationalist associations and student fraternities were founded all over Europe.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Festschrift zur Feier des 100. Semesters der akademischen Verbindung Kadimah (1933); O. Abeles, in: Die Welt, 5 (1913), 145–7. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Nahum Sokolow, Hibbath Zion (1934), pp. 380ff; G. Kressel, Shivat Ẓiyyon, 4 (1956), 55–59; H.P. Freidenreich, in: Columbia Essays in International Affairs, 5 (1970) 119–136.; M.L. Rozenblit, in: YLBI, 27 (1982), 171–186; J.H. Schoeps, in: YLBI, 27 (1982), 155–170; idem, in: N. Leser (ed.), Theodor Herzl und das Wien des Fin de Siècle (1987), 113–137.

[Getzel Kressel /

Mirjam Triendl (2nd ed.)]


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