the fire these times

15. The Legacy of Yiddish Bundism

So this is a conversation that I’ve been meaning to have for a long time and it just so happens that that one of the best people to speak to about this is none another than Molly Crabapple. We’ve been chatting about this topic for a long time as it was roughly my MA thesis at SOAS in 2016.

Molly however has a much more personal connection to Bundism as her great-grandfather, Sam Rothbort, was a Bundist. She wrote a moving piece about this for the New York Review of Books which you can read here. She’s now writing a book about the Jewish Labor Bund.

So who are these Bundists? How does Molly view the legacy of Bundism? What can we learn from the concept of ‘Doikayt’ (here-ness) that they believed in?

This is what this conversation is about. I also tried to – and, hopefully, succesfully – to convey why I, as someone of Palestinian and Lebanese origins with no direct ties to Judaism or the Yiddish language, was so interested in this movement. Long story short: I ended up spending half of my MA year (2015-2016) at SOAS studying the Jewish Labour Bund and, more specifically, how Yiddish and Hebrew were thought of within Bundism and Zionism.

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