Of Moses and Marx: Folk Ideology and Folk History in the Jewish Labor Movement

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999 - 248 pages

The Jewish Labor Movement was a radical subculture that flourished within the trade union and political movements in the United States in the early part of the twentieth century. Jewish immigrant activists--socialists, communists, anarchists, and labor Zionists--adapted aspects of the traditions with which they were raised in order to express the politics of social transformation. In doing so, they created a folk ideology which reflected their dual ethnic/class identity. This book explores that folk ideology, through an analysis of interviews with participants in the Jewish Labor Movement as well as through a survey of the voluminous literature written about that movement.

A synthesis of political ideology and ethnic tradition was carefully crafted by secular working-class Jewish immigrant radicals who rediscovered and reformulated elements of Jewish traditions as vehicles for political organizing. Commonly held symbols of their cultural identity--the Yiddish language, rituals such as the Passover seder, remembered narratives of the Eastern European shtetl, and biblical imagery--served as powerful tools in forging political solidarity among fellow Jewish workers and activists within the Jewish Labor Movement.

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Contents

When Moses Met Marx Aspects of Jewish Radical Folk Ideology
13
Folk Ideology and Folk History Reading Writings about the Jewish Labor Movement
27
Matters of Belief Secularized Judaism and Spiritualized Radicalism
53
A Story in Itself Personal Narrative and Folk Ideology
79
Folklore and Folk Ideology Political Expression in Traditional Forms
93
The Third Seder of Passover Liberating a Ritual of Liberation
119
Conclusion
141
The Jewish Labor Movement in Los Angeles
147
A Bund Haggadah
155
A Third Seder Passover
165
Hollywood Kindershule Pesach Hagadah
189
Notes
197
Bibliography
227
Index
241
Copyright

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Page 171 - And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it. And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water.
Page 175 - And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.
Page 174 - And it was told the king of Egypt that the people fled ; and the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants was turned against the people, and they said, Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us...
Page 174 - And he took six hundred chosen chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt, and captains over every one of them.
Page 208 - When, in the course of development, class distinctions have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated in the hands of a vast association of the whole nation, the public power will lose its political character.
Page 175 - And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground : and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left.
Page 171 - And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived, and bare a son : and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.
Page 208 - In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.
Page 190 - Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
Page 208 - For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.

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About the author (1999)

DAVID P. SHULDINER holds appointments as Humanities Program Coordinator with the State of Connecticut, Department of Social Services, Elderly Services Division, as Adjunct Faculty in the School of Family Studies, University of Connecticut, and in the Gerontology Program at St. Joseph College, and has taught folklore at Trinity College. He is co-editor of the Journal of Applied Folklore and the author of Aging Political Activists: Personal Narratives from the Old Left (Praeger, 1995) and Folklore, Culture, and Aging: A Research Guide (Greenwood, 1997).

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