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Professing Leninist Yiddishkayt: the decline of American Yiddish communism.

Although communism was conceived as an essentially internationalist movement, in its practical political life it developed currents that combined a commitment to class struggle and state control of production with various forms of nation building and nationalism. While the Comintern variety of communist nationalism sought to construct a multinational, Moscow-centered superpower, national Communist parties or their factions often tended to put their particularistic interests above those of the Soviet-led Communist movement. (1) An example of "national communism" was "Browderism," the attempt of Earl Browder, general secretary of the communist Party USA (CPUSA), to distance his party from the Soviet brand of communism and integrate it into American capitalist life. In 1945, William Z. Foster replaced Browder, reinstating the CPUSA's indiscriminate allegiance to Moscow.

Even with the removal of Browder, the CPUSA did not depart from the strategy of seeking a coalition with mainstream American organizations-including American Jewish organizations. In 1950, the leadership of the CPUSA admitted: "Our weakness today is that we are not associated closely with the members of the major mass organizations of the Jewish people." (2) In the climate of the Cold War and against the backdrop of anti-Jewish repressions in the Soviet Union and its satellites, Jewish communists found themselves in almost complete isolation. Significantly, American Jewish organizations were eager to emphasize their aversion to communism. For instance, on October 1, 1950, some 2,000 delegates gathered in New York for what was dubbed a "Labor Conference to Stop Communist Aggression." Many of the delegates were readers of the largest Yiddish newspaper, the Forverts (The Jewish Daily Forward), which had been among the earliest labor-oriented newspapers to see communism as an evil, and had waged a bitter campaign against it since the early 1920s. (3) In the late 1950s, when the most repressive forms of Stalinism had been debunked even by the Kremlin, pro-Soviet activists encountered a particularly harsh ostracism, notably in the Yiddish-reading circles of the Forverts and the nationalist-cum-liberal Der Tog (Day), which confronted the Morgn-Frayhayt (Morning-Freedom), the newspaper of American communists and their sympathizers.

Journalists of the Morgn-Frayhayt and the Forverts were involved in perennial ideological warfare with one another. The former accused its larger rival of promoting assimilation, accepting capitalism as an economic model, and preferring low intellectual pabulum. At the same time, many of Der Tog's editors and contributors had more in common with their Yiddish communist counterparts, because both dailies were middle-to-highbrow and targeted secular, anti-assimilationist readers. According to Henry Srebrnik, a historian of Jewish communism, the Yiddish communists "were not assimilationists, at least not consciously, unlike some Jews who belonged to mainstream, non-Jewish Communist" organizations. (4) Beginning from 1918, when Jewish sections emerged in the Bolshevik Party in Soviet Russia and later modeled themselves in the American Communist Party fashion, the autonomy of their Yiddish-speaking membership helped to smooth the essentially de-nationalizing character of the movement. (5) At the same time, the CPUSA was wary of its ethnic groups' sectarianism. In 1950, the party leadership emphasized that "bourgeois nationalism" had "not always been fought against effectively or consistently by many comrades" of the Morgn-Frayhayt. (6) Yiddish-speaking communist organizations usually had little to do with "the young Jewish intellectuals" for whom "Communism was the principal religion." (7) With few exceptions, members of such organizations were hard-working, proletarian immigrants with little or no formal education, in whose imagination the internationalist "diaspora" of the Comintern formed the right ideological environment for their essentially nationalist aspirations. Characteristically, a 1949 analysis maintained that among American political organizations, the communists were "the most active in the nationality field." (8) According to the CPUSA's post-World War II "Leninist position," the Jewish people had
   only its national character and culture as common national
   attributes. Hence, it is not a single nation and is incapable of
   acting as such. But the Jews of all countries are capable, in the
   present period, of fighting as a people, in unity with all
   democratic forces, for uprooting fascism and anti-Semitism, for
   equality of rights, for a progressive mass Jewish culture, for the
   rehabilitation and upbuilding of Jewish life in the liberated
   countries, for help to the free national development of the Yishuv
   in an independent state of Arabs and Jews, and for help to the
   upbuilding of the Jewish Autonomous Region in Birobidjan. (9)


The same program concluded that "both bourgeois nationalism and assimilationism oppose[d] the development and cultivation of the Yiddish language," which historically was "the common language and basic means in modern times of cultural intercourse between the majority of Jews in various countries." Although "a continually growing section of American Jews will find progressive Jewish cultural expression in English," Yiddish "will continue to play a big and, for a time, decisive role in the class struggle in America." (10)

Following the phasing out of the Comintern in May 1943, nonSoviet Yiddish-speaking communists could infer that they were part of a worldwide brotherhood and sisterhood linked via the Moscow-based Jewish Anti-fascist Committee (JAC), although the Kremlin never positioned the committee as a Jewish communist headquarters. In the 1960s, some of them expected the Moscow journal Sovetish Heymland (Soviet Homeland) to become their surrogate Comintern and thus reinforce the fragile ideological construction of Yiddish communism, based on little-compatible postulates of Jewish particularism and proletarian internationalism. This article attempts to show the two phases of final disintegration of Yiddish communism: first, in the 1950s, when Stalin's regime was unmasked as a tyranny with anti-Jewish objectives; second, after the Six-Day War, when the Soviet Union's political stance toward Israel and Jews infuriated the Morgn Frayhayt's editors and readers.

Challenges of De-Stalinization

From 1939, the Morgn Frayhayt was edited by Paul (Peysekh) Novick (1891-1989), who had replaced the deceased founding editor, Moshe Olgin (1878-1939), a legendary figure in the American Communist movement. Like Olgin, Novick belonged to the group of socialist journalists who left the Forverts in the fall of 1921 and established a new newspaper, Frayhayt (Freedom), in April 1922 (later, on June 17, 1929 it was renamed Morgn Frayhayt because it started appearing as a morning rather than an afternoon newspaper). (11) Initially, Novick reluctantly accepted "the cursed 21 principles" of the Comintern, (12) but he did not desert the paper during the two mass departures of its disagreeing readers and writers: first, in 1929, when all periodicals of the CPUSA echoed the Comintern's interpretation of the anti-Jewish riots in Palestine as a commendable episode in the Arab people's struggle against their British and Zionist colonizers, and, second, in 1939, after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. (13)

A self-educated newspaperman, Novick did not come close to his much-lauded predecessor, the skilled political journalist, literary critic, translator and prose writer Olgin, who had received his university education in Kiev, Heidelberg, and New York, and obtained a doctorate at Columbia University. Nonetheless, after Olgin's death in November 1939, Novick would often determine the political behavior of Yiddish-speaking left-wingers in the United States, whose numbers were not negligible: In 1947, Morgn Frayhayt's circulation of 21,000 almost equaled the circulation of the CPUSA's English-language Daily Worker. (14) The situation had become different by 1956, the end of the first decade of the Cold War, when many institutions, including the International Workers Order that used to define the Jewish landscape of communist life in America, had been suppressed or dissolved. The CPUSA had lost much of its membership; a number of party leaders were jailed under the terms of the Alien Registration Act, or Smith Act (passed in 1940, it was widely used against left-wing activists, accused of advocating the overthrow of the government); and the remaining activists were marginalized in the trade-union movement. (15) Many Yiddish-speakers left the communist movement during this period, when a hostile attitude toward communism (or, euphemistically, un-Americanism), often regarded as Jewish in origin, "inspired fear in the hearts of the Jews." (16) Yet, the fearless and devoted communist ideologists, including Morgn Frayhayt journalists, counteracted the antisemitic connotations of American Cold War rhetoric by justifying uncritically every turn in Soviet politics. The whitewashing energy of Communist journalism had dramatically decreased its strength in April 1956, when an article entitled "Our Pain and Our Consolation" in the Warsaw Yiddish newspaper Folks-Shtime (People's Voice) provided revealing information about Stalinist repressions against Yiddish literati. (17)

Strictly speaking, the Folks-Shtime article contained the same information that Leon Crystal, a writer for the Forverts, brought from his fact-finding trip to Moscow in the beginning of 1956. The Israeli embassy helped him to excavate the first portion of truth about the tragic destiny of the JAC, whose leading members, such as Itsik Fefer and David Bergelson, were executed in August 1952. During a stopover in Warsaw, Crystal briefed Folks-Shtime editor Hersh Smolar about the results of his two-month-long journalistic investigation. While the American communists initially rejected Crystal's articles as malicious slander on the part of the notoriously anti-Soviet Forverts, there was no way to brush aside the publication in the Yiddish newspaper of the writings of Polish communists, whose critique of Stalinism reflected the contemporary climate in Polish society. (18)

The disclosure caused an uproar in the Jewish world and set off a soul-searching debate in its pro-Soviet circles, bringing to an end the period that, in Novick's words, at first "seemed to be a misunderstanding, then a puzzle and later, as the years passed, an inexplicable nightmare." (19) Novick was forced to own up to his paper's submissive relationship with the Soviet Union and he promised that from then on, "constructive criticism" would become its vehicle for dealing with the shortcomings of the Soviet system. (20) Some activists even suggested renaming the newspaper in order to emphasize its "progressive" rather than communist character. At the same time, several leading communists proposed changing the name of their party in order to underline "profound and genuine changes." (21) The Morgn Frayhayt's interbred publication, the English journal Jewish Life, did take on a new name, Jewish Currents.

The decision to become "progressive" was not simply a result of a brainstorm in 1956. Beginning from the mid-1930s, American communists had publicized themselves as disseminators of a "progressive secular Yiddish culture," one that, according to Olgin, would help people "to go forward, to achieve a better, more fulfilling life, to recognize the enemy in advance, and to attain a secure place under the sun." (22) An interesting interpretation of "progressiveness" is contained in the unpublished manuscript of Alex Bittelman's autobiography, Things I Have Learned, written in the early 1960s. Bittelman (1890-1982) was one of the founders of the American communist movement in 1919 and its leading theoretician. In 1940-1950, he served as the CPUSA's watchdog on the editorial board of the Morgn-Frayhayt. In 1957, he was released from a federal prison after serving three years for communist activity, and two years later the CPUSA leadership expelled him from the party for supporting some ideas of Earl Browder. (23) Bittelman spent the last two decades of his life writing memoirs, articles, and open letters. He argued inter alia that in the late 1950s, he came to "the idea of a progressive Jewish nationalism--a good nationalism--as the main condition for Jewish national survival and as an organic part of all progressive nationalisms in the world, including socialist nationalism.' (24)

By underscoring the "progressive" nature of the Morgn Frayhayt, its editors sought to downplay its communist links, trying to shelter its journalists and activists in the hysterical anticommunist climate of the postwar years. According to a 1946 description, the newspaper avoided the status of an official CPUSA publication through an arrangement by which the party "support[ed] the Morgen Freiheit Association, in accord with its program, as a non-Party anti-fascist Jewish organization" and "as a unifying political center of the more consistent Jewish anti-fascist movements." (25) Yet, although the official publisher of the Morgn Frayhayt and the journal Jewish Life/Jewish Currents was registered as an independent association, the staff members of these publications continued to be prosecuted as communist loyalists. (26) For instance, Novick was accused of making false statements under oath in obtaining American citizenship in 1927, a charge that carried the threat, never materialized, of denaturalization. (27)

In 1956, however, the newspaper publicly distanced itself from the CPUSA primarily in order to placate its readership rather than to protect its circle from the authorities. The Morgn Frayhayt's publicized moral revulsion against Stalinism and ritual commemorations of the murdered Soviet Yiddish writers helped reduce the fallout from the de-Stalinization process in the Soviet Union. Novick claimed vaingloriously that he had "saved the progressive Jewish movement in America from the lot of the progressive Jewish movements in other countries." (28) Indeed, despite a fall-off in the Morgn Frayhayt's circulation, the paper was able to keep a large number of its readers and supporters and to preserve the milieu that had been created among them. These people were patently disappointed, but they did not want to swallow their pride and move to the camp of their former ideological adversaries, following the example of those Morgn Frayhayt activists who in June 1957 resolved to transfer their allegiance to the Workmen's Circle, a sister organization of the Forverts. (29) Importantly, many readers lived as a "concentrated minority," spending most of their social life together in the same neighborhoods and cooperative housing developments. Thus, they did not want to break with their community and become outcasts. (30)

From the ideological shelter of the Morgn Frayhayt, the holdovers could vaunt their steadfast loyalty to old ideals, labeling all discordant former comrades as "renegades" or "dogmatists." With this mindset, they continued to marvel at the Bolshevik revolution and assert the superiority of "toilers" over capitalists and of enlightened Eastern European Jews over "small-minded" Americans. Novick, and presumably some other members of his staff, did not leave the Communist Party, but in the Red-baiting climate of the 1950s, they avoided publicizing their membership and invoked the Fifth Amendment during official interrogations. (31)

Howard Fast's Influence on Novick

A veteran of the party with a quarter-century history of endorsing each permutation of the Kremlin's general line, Novick gradually evolved into a critical observer of Soviet politics. "There was a process;" he recalled from the hindsight of the late 1980s. "You don't just grow out of your skin overnight." He noted two "breaking points" in his attachment to Soviet policy: first, Nikita Khrushchev's 1956 anti-Stalinist speech to the 20th Soviet Communist Party Congress and, second, Howard Fast's 1957 book The Naked God. (32) Indeed, due to his prestige, Fast's condemnation of Soviet politics had an impact on Jewish activists. A popular novelist and the winner of a Stalin International Peace Prize in 1953, Fast (1914-2003), was the leading intellectual voice in the CPUSA. Until June 1956, his column appeared in the Daily Worker.

On February 1, 1957, the New York Times published a front-page article titled "Reds Renounced by Howard Fast." The editorial writer, Harry Schwartz, broke the news about Fast's departure from the CPUSA, mentioning Nikita Khruschev's de-Stalinization speech at the 20th Congress and the Folks-Shtime article as the main reasons for his ideological metamorphosis. Still, Fast stated that he was "neither anti-Soviet nor anti-Communist," and he invoked the protection of the Fifth Amendment when a few weeks later, the House Un-American Activities Committee wanted him to appear before them as a friendly witness (in 1946 he had served three months in jail for his refusal to cooperate with the same committee). (33) Characteristically, on the same day that he read the article in the New York Times, Novick wrote a friendly letter to Fast, asking his permission to run the Folks-Shtime's translation of his novel Lola Gray in the Morgn Frayhayt. (34)

In the March issue of the left-wing journal Mainstream, Fast wrote about his conclusion that the Soviet variety of socialism was a "socialism without morality." Still, Mainstream's editors were glad to "hear the note of solidarity" in his arguments, concluding that they did not "think the differences between him and his former comrades, sharp as they are, need be exacerbated so that a hostile chasm lies between them." The April issue of Mainstream allocated fifteen pages for critical discussion of Fast's declaration. (35) In June, Fast's name again appeared in the New York Times when he decided to make known his correspondence with the Soviet novelist Boris Polevoy, who was chairman of the foreign commission of the party-run Writers' Union. In 1955, Polevoy and a few other Soviet literati visited New York, where they rejected all the stories about executions of Yiddish writers. (36) In his letter, Fast recalled Polevoy lying then to the effect that "the Yiddish writer, [Leyb] Kvitko, was alive and well and living in your apartment house as your neighbor, when he was among those executed and long since dead." (37)

William Z. Foster, who at that time was the CPUSA's chairman emeritus, tried to remedy the situation, presenting Fast as a naive intellectual, "[d]emoralized by the novel, complex, and dismaying problem of the Stalin cult of the individual and its Hungarian aftermath." He reminded Fast that "his gigantic body of readers in the Socialist countries" demanded from him "very definite leadership responsibilities to the workers of the world" and asked him to "wake up to this fact and begin to act accordingly." (38) Still, by August 1957, Fast finally broke with the communist circles. This became clear after the publication in the Forverts of Simon Weber's article, "Howard Fast Tells Why He Departed from the Communists," based on the journalist's two-day-long conversations with the writer. (39) In the fiercely fractious world of the New York Yiddish press, Weber (who later, in 1970-1987, edited the Forverts) and Novick were sworn enemies. In the beginning of his journalistic career, Weber worked on the Morgn Frayhayt, but in 1939 joined the Forverts, which was, in his own words, "the only really outspoken [American Yiddish] anti-Communist paper." (40)

Fast told Weber about his conversation with Alexander Fadeev in April 1949 at the World Peace Congress in Paris. Fadeev, chairman of the Soviet Writers' Union, headed the Soviet delegation. He intimated to his American colleague that the Soviet government had obtained information about the American Jewish Appeal's and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee's conspiracy against the USSR. Moreover, all "ghetto" (i.e., nonacculturated) Jews in the Soviet Union were part of that conspiracy. When the poet Itsik Fefer visited the United States in 1943 as a representative of the JAC, he was recruited as an American spy. On his return to the Soviet Union, Fefer succeeded in luring almost all members of the committee in his anti-Soviet organization, but he failed to recruit Solomon Mikhoels, chairman of the committee, who threatened to denounce Fefer and his fellow spies. As a result, Fefer organized Mikhoels's liquidation in Minsk in January 1948. (Perhaps in order to provide a "factual" basis for this grotesque legend, Fefer, a secret police informer, was dispatched to Minsk at the time of Mikhoels's trip.) (41)

According to Fast, Novick--whom Weber kept calling the "twangy little Jew" (fonfevater yidl)--was one of the few people with whom the American delegates later shared this "secret." It was a serious accusation, especially as Novick had already been accused of suppressing any mention of the arrested Soviet Yiddish writers. A former Morgn Frayhayt writer argued that this ban was introduced in November 1948, coinciding with the liquidation of the JAC. (42) On the other hand, in 1950 the CPUSA leadership sharply criticized "many comrades in Jewish work" and in the Morgn Frayhayt for falling "victim to the ravings of the bourgeoisie about 'what happened to the Soviet Jewish writers?'" (43)

Novick did not hurry to react to the publication of Fast's interview, apparently waiting for instructions from the party apparatus. Eventually, on August 24, 1957, Literaturnaia gazeta, the central organ of the Soviet Writers' Union, informed its readers that Fast had broken with the Communist Party, becoming "a deserter under fire" and an author of "anti-Soviet slander." (44) Following this publication, Novick wrote Fast a long, angry letter, categorically rejecting Fast's assertion. "The story that somebody--whoever it might be--'reported' to me about the 'conversation' with Fadeev in Paris," wrote Novick, "is a fabrication." (45) In his September 5 reply, however, Fast reiterated his accusation:
   I have lied to myself and to all my principles for many years; I do
   not lie now. As you may think of me, in what I now do, so must I
   wonder how people of any integrity and character can continue to
   support a monstrous murder-machine that includes anti-Semitism as
   only one of its vices.

      Have you no heart? No reason? No conscience? Neither you nor I
   even whispered when they murdered [the leading Yiddish prose writer
   David] Bergelson--doesn't that bother you? (46)


On October 16, 1957, Novick wrote another long letter to Fast. Fast's assertion that neither of them had "even whispered" about Bergelson's murder was particularly hurtful:
   There is bitter irony in your question whether I am not "bothered"
   by the murder of Bergelson. For years we have been running after
   you to try to find out, to do something. You, the Howard Fast of
   those days, the receiver of the Stalin Peace Prize, might have been
   able to do something, to get information. You were not so
   "bothered" and were busy with other things. I don't condemn you so
   much for this, but certainly there is no truthfulness in equating
   my interest in the matter with your lack of interest at the same
   time. (47)


Fast revisited the past in his 1990 book, Being Red, which is full of striking inaccuracies. For example, Fefer (who was not a combatant in World War II) appears as "an officer in the Red Army who had fought gallantly through the defense of Russia during the Nazi invasion and was a Hero of the Soviet Union." (48) The 1990 version does not mention the whole story of Fefer's alleged conspiracy. According to Fast, the secret session with Fadeev was set up, on the fringes of the World Peace Congress, because shortly before the trip Novick had authorized Fast to deliver the message that the National Committee of the Communist Party "had decided to issue a charge of anti-Semitic practices against the Communist Party of the Soviet Union." (49)

When Being Red came out, Novick was not alive to comment on this radically different (and improbable) record of events. In 1957, Fast's interview and letter had wounded Novick, but it had not convinced him. He still maintained that the Stalinist blot on Communism had not undermined the integrity of communist ideology itself. Therefore, he continued to believe that the situation in the Communist movement, particularly in Poland, was not hopeless.

In Search of a Soviet Yiddish Culture

In the 1950s, positive news from Poland brought some solace to Novick's circle. In contrast to the Soviet Union, where Yiddish cultural activities had remained almost completely paralyzed since the late 1940s, Poland boasted a fairly vibrant Jewish communal life. A relatively strong group of Yiddish literati had a few Warsaw-based outlets for their journalistic and literary production: the semi-daily Folks-Shtime, the monthly literary journal Yidishe Shriftn (Yiddish Writings), and the publishing house Yidish Bukh (Yiddish Book). (In 1946, Novick spent three months in Poland and took part in the establishment of the Folks-Shtime.) (50) The Warsaw State Yiddish Theatre performed in Poland and abroad. Jewish clubs, schools, and cooperative enterprises operated in several Polish towns. The cooperatives' workers--who, together with their families, accounted for almost 20 percent of Poland's Jewish population in the late 1950s and 1960s--constituted the main social basis for Yiddish cultural life in the country. (51) Even the American administration gambled on Wladyslaw Gomulka's differences with Nikita Khrushchev and started a program of economic aid to Poland. (52) Western left-wingers lavished praise on Poland's Jewish life and believed that they could

incentivize Soviet decision makers to introduce a similar model. Thus, in August 1956, during a meeting with Soviet leaders, the leading Canadian communist Joe Salsberg alluded to the type of Jewish communal organization implemented in postwar Poland. (53) Polish Communists, too, believed that their work could become a stimulus and model for the renewal of Jewish communal and cultural life in the Soviet Union. (54)

It was a futile hope, because Soviet functionaries' vision of Jewish life was always focused on Birobidzhan. Despite its negligible Jewish population, the Jewish autonomous region provided the Kremlin dogmatists with the missing link--national territory--and, therefore, made the Jews look, at least on paper, less "abnormal" in the territory-based ethnic structure of Soviet society. Only in Birobidzhan were Jews regarded by the Kremlin as a national community, whereas in all other parts of the country they were treated "like all other Soviet citizens." (55) This meant that the government was not inclined to open Yiddish institutions outside the Jewish autonomous region, because it generally did not sponsor similar institutions for the diasporas of other territorial peoples. In 1958, Nikita Khrushchev explained to a journalist from Der Tog that, as far as he was concerned, "all the Jews could go to Birobidzhan and set up a Jewish state, but he was not prepared to allow Yiddish schools to be established over Russia." (56)

Ultimately, the strong international and domestic pressure forced the Kremlin to allow some "non-Birobidzhan-centered" forms of Jewish cultural life. In March 1959, Sholem Aleichem's centenary, which was widely marked in the Soviet Union, helped to create a precedent of Yiddish publishing in post-Stalinist Moscow. The main event of the jubilee celebration took place in the Moscow Hall of Trade Unions. Several notables of the Soviet literary world took part in the gala occasion. There were also American guests: Paul Novick and the African-American singer Paul Robeson, who performed a couple of Yiddish songs. (57)

In 1961, the Soviet Writers' Union was allowed to publish a Yiddish literary journal, Sovetish Heymland. For Soviet decision makers, permitting the journal's publication was a trade-off with the foreign intercessors: We give you a journal and books, but you stop bothering us with reproducing in the Soviet Union the model of Jewish communal organization implemented in post-Holocaust Poland. Novick, like many other Yiddish activists on the political left, regarded Sovetish Heymland as a journal "obtained by [their] pleading and sobbing." Hundreds of Morgn Frayhayt readers formed the most numerous contingent of the Moscow journal's subscribers in the United States. In November 1963, on his first transatlantic voyage, Aron Vergelis, editor of the Moscow Yiddish journal, found that the milieu of the Morgn Frayhayt formed his only receptive audience in the United States. (58)

In the 1960s, only a minority of American Jews supported those cautious leaders (such as Nahum Goldman, Phillip Klutznik, and Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver) who were afraid that a bellicose attitude toward the Soviet Union would heat up the Cold War. A symposium with the participation of intellectual and public figures led to the establishment of the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry in May 1964. "After that there was no longer pressure brought within any Jewish circles, except the tiny pro-Communist element, to stop American Jews from pleading the cause of Soviet Jewry." (59) However, even the "pro-Communist element" had problems with Soviet propaganda. In 1963, an antisemitic lampoon, Judaism without Embellishment by Trofim Kichko, released in Kiev under the imprint of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, aroused outrage in the West. Bittelman mailed an open letter to various newspapers, including the Forverts. (60) The Morgn Fraybayt editors were also infuriated. On March 22, 1964, the newspaper published an angry editorial stating inter alia that the cartoons in the book were
   reminiscent of the well-known caricatures of Jews in anti-Semitic
   publications ... The blunders in the anti-religious drive as well
   as--or even more so--the serious errors in the restoration of the
   Jewish cultural institutions destroyed during the Stalin cult (more
   correctly, the non-restoration of these institutions) are matters
   that disturb many honest people, friends of the Soviet Union. (61)


On April 12, at a gathering in New York attended by a couple of thousand people, Novick demanded that the author be tried and punished. He once again became wounded when the monthly magazine USSR of the Soviet Embassy in Washington published in its May 1964 issue an article by the leading Moscow Orientologist Joseph Braginsky, who wrote about the "natural assimilation" of Jews into Soviet civilization. In his three polemical articles, Novick rejected the scholar's arguments. (62)

In November 1964, Novick went to the Soviet Union as a guest of the central literary weekly Literaturnaia gazeta and spent two months in the country, visiting such cities as Kiev, Odessa, and Vilnius. In a conversation with editors of the Sovetish Heymland, Novick underlined that the Moscow journal was a publication of worldwide importance and it was also their--i.e., his--circle's journal. (63) During his trip, Novick's main chaperone was the journalist Semen Rabinovich from the Novosti Press Agency, or APN, which was the main provider of Soviet material for such periodicals as the Morgn Frayhayt. Rabinovich, who coordinated the Yiddish sector of the agency's activities, organized Novick's meeting with a representative of the Office of the Chief Public Prosecutor to discuss such issues as the publication of Kichko's book. Novick was generally happy with the conversation, though by the end of it he stated: "It's necessary to fight against the existing remnants of antisemitism. I reckon, Lenin would have taken more strict measures." (64) The "back to Lenin" stance was shared by many Soviet and non-Soviet communists. "Lenin," "Leninism" and "return to the Leninist norms" were invocations reiterated in an attempt to assuage their anguish caused by the exposure of the real nature of Stalin's regime and, in the late. 1960s, of the anti-Jewish campaign in Poland.

Split Over Israel and Soviet Jewry

The Six-Day War in Israel in 1967 changed the climate in the Jewish sector of the international communist movement, in particular in Poland, where anti-Israel and, generally, anti-Jewish rhetoric began to be regularly heard. A campaign against the "Zionist Fifth Column" was launched following the student demonstrations in March 1968. Foreign delegations were not allowed to come to Warsaw to commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the ghetto uprising in April 1968. Many Polish Jewish communists lost their jobs and were expelled from the party. The Folks-Shtime, previously published four times per week, was transformed into a weekly, whereas the journal Yidishe Shriftn and the publishing house Yidish Bukh were closed down. (65)

For the Morgn Frayhayt circle it was a shocking development. Novick wrote about the events in Poland as a tragic page in Jewish history and "also a tragedy for Socialism and for the world Socialist Movement." He hoped that Polish communists would follow the example of the anti-Stalinist drive in the USSR, reacting "in the same way now to the violations which have occurred in Poland in the recent period." He underlined that "Socialism is not responsible for what happened in Poland! The blame for that is the anti-Jewish heritage of the pre-war chauvinist and capitalist Poland which reappeared in 1968 and must be eradicated." (66) It was his pet thesis that, in a socialist society, antisemitism was merely a "vestige" of the capitalist past, Hitlerism, etc. (67) He hoped that "[t]he supporters of Socialism among the Jewish people who fought for so many years against capitalism and its evils will not yield their belief in Socialism, the Socialism of Lenin which decisively fought against anti-Semitism." (68)

Apart from criticizing the leadership of Poland, whose course was condoned by top communists in the Soviet Union and America, the Morgn Frayhayt did not follow the Soviet line of condemning Israel as the aggressor and of bailing the Arab states as strongholds of anti-imperialism. Novick aligned with the Israeli splinter communist party, Maki, led by Shmuel Mikunis and Moshe Sneh, who were critical of the pro-Arab stance of the Soviet Union; the Kremlin recognized the other Israeli communist party, Rakah, lead by Tawfik Toubi and Meir Vilner. On June 6, 1967, after the beginning of the war, the Morgn Frayhayt editorial was entitled "Save Israel." In a private letter to Sid Resnik, a regular contributor to the Morgn-Frayhayt, Novick explained his position:
   I am sure you don't think it's easy for us. It might be easy for
   those who think or even say openly (there are such people) that the
   establishment of Israel was a mistake and, therefore, this
   "mistake" should be rectified. They don't spell it out openly, but
   their deeds speak for themselves. [...] For many years, we've been
   promoting the slogan: "Israel came to stay"--and we meant it. So,
   when we saw the attempts to get rid of the "mistake," to liquidate
   Israel, we called to save Israel. (69)


In 1967, the two groups, Mikunis's and Novick's, brought out together a pamphlet whose purpose was "to clarify an important and complex problem, specifically from the viewpoint of those progressives who maintain that the State of Israel conducted a defensive war during the six days between the 6th and 11th of June, 1967." (70) In general, while the CPUSA had chosen to identify with the Soviet party, Novick's circle was becoming increasingly independent and sympathetic to communist currents, dissenting from the Moscow general line, notably EuroCommunism. (71) The Six-Day War revealed many former anti-Zionists' devotion to Israel. One of them, Bittelman, wrote in June 1968 to Ben-Zion Goldberg, an editor of Der Tog:
      We, the American Jews, have [...] a duty to inspire and arouse
   our own youth to organize mass migration to and settlement in
   Israel. Israel's capacity to grow, to prosper and--above all--to
   acquire and maintain the al[l-]round capacity to depend primarily
   upon itself, upon its own armed strength, in any coming crisis,
   would be greatly helped by truly large numbers of American Jewish
   youth becoming Israelis. (72)


While Bittelman already did not belong to the CPUSA membership, dissent was simmering also inside the party. The press reported plans for purges, brought from Moscow in the summer of 1969 by Gus Hall, general secretary of the party, and Harry Winston, executive secretary. Novick was mentioned as a functionary who had to be replaced. (73) In reality, a campaign against Novick began before the two leaders' Moscow trip. In March 1969, the New York Times informed its readers about a circular letter, which the CPUSA central apparatus had sent to all local organizations, accusing Morgn Frayhayt (whose circulation then was 6,000 copies a day) and Jewish Currents (4,200 copies a month) in "increasingly abandoning their past." At issue were the editors' deviations from the party line, most notably their "obsession with the false issue of 'black anti-Semitism,'" their support of Israel and the Communist Party led by Mikunis and Sneh, "anti-Soviet opposition to the military action of the Warsaw Pact countries in Czechoslovakia," and their criticism of the antisemitic campaign in Poland. (74) Bittelman reacted by writing a letter to Novick (though, to all appearances, their relationship was far from friendly), prodding him into defending openly and firmly his position toward Israel as well as his positions on "anti-Semitic trends among some few leaders of the Black Militants" and the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. (75)

Vergelis did not have access to the New York Times, but, judging by his letters preserved in Novick's YIVO archival collection, he knew in detail about Novick's confrontation with the CPUSA leadership. On April 3, 1969, he wrote to his New York colleague, expressing his hope that "the cohort of courageous fighters of progressive Jewish America" would follow the right ideological line. He asked Novick to be patient. "Please, don't do any negative steps, [...] don't let, so to speak, the emotional stream to pull out logs from the raft, on which the Morgn Frayhayt conveys its readers from [formulating] a question to [finding] an answer to it."

In his letter to Vergelis, written on April 11, 1969 Novick reassured his colleague that his paper had not and would not deviate from its "Olgin line." "Our criticism [of the Soviet Union] is a friendly one, like it was in 1956 or when I visited you." Novick mentioned his tragic relations with the American Communist leadership, underlining that his paper's position toward Poland had played a central role in the confrontation. Novick was annoyed that his party leaders saw the YKUF, the World Alliance of Yiddish Culture (established in the aftermath of the left-dominated Yiddish Cultural Congress in Paris, September 1937), as a nationalist organization. Also, they would under no circumstances admit cases of antisemitism among the African American population. Novick referred to a "Jewish expert" in the party leadership whose "fossilized dogmatism" could ruin everything. To all appearances, Novick meant Hyman Lumer (1909-1976), one of the party's national secretaries and editor of the party's journal Political Affairs. As early as 1965, Lumer criticized Novick for "seek[ing] Jewish survival as an end in itself." (76)

In the meantime, the relations between Morgn Frayhayt and Sovetish Heymland began to deteriorate, too. In a letter dated October 15, 1969, Vergelis complained to Novick about the decline of the Sovetish Heymland distribution through the Morgn Frayhayt. In 1962, the American paper distributed each month 1,985 copies of the Moscow journal, whereas by 1969 only 1,008 copies could be sold. (77) Judging by Novick's letters written on January 20 and December 3, 1970, he also had reasons to be unhappy with his counterpart. In 1969, 1,000 copies of Vergelis's book Oyg oyf oyg (Tete-a-tete) came out under the YKUF imprint. Novick expected the author to come to America and participate in a book tour, but Vergelis's controllers did not allow him to go. As a result, about 500 copies could not be sold. Novick was also angry about antisemitic publications, which continued to appear in the Soviet Union. (78)

While between 1967 and 1969 the Sovetish Heymland was not involved in any sharp political confrontations, its position changed radically in March 1970, when Moscow launched an all-out anti-Zionist campaign. (79) Earlier, in January 1970, the Central Committee's Department of Propaganda suggested organizing, "with the participation of the editorial board of the journal Sovetish Heymland, protests of Soviet citizens of Jewish nationality against the provocative campaign carried out by Zionist organizations." (80) On March 4 of that year, Vergelis appeared among a group of Soviet Jewish dignitaries in a press conference concerning "problems associated with the situation in the Middle East." The gathering issued a ringing statement: "We subscribe to the opinion of Soviet people: 'Together with Arab countries against imperialism rather than with Israeli imperialists against Arab countries.'" An editorial article in the Morgn Frayhayt, published on March 15, 1970, wrote that "Such words as 'Hitlerism' and 'Nazism' which were used at the press conference are an insult not only to the members of the Israel army but also to the Jews in Israel who still carry numbers of the Nazi concentration camps on their arms; all Jews are hurt by such expressions." (81)

In February 1971 the first international conference in defense of Soviet Jews was held in Brussels. It was a reaction to Soviet restrictions and repressions, notably the trial in Leningrad in 1970 of a group of unsuccessful hijackers who attempted to flee the country and settle in Israel. (82) On December 27, 1970 Novick wrote that the "atmosphere created by anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic hysteria" of some Soviet propagandists might have contributed to the severity of the sentences given the hijackers. Yet on January 1, 1971, he was happy to inform his readers that the "last days of the past year brought significant gains for justice and humanism.

The death sentences imposed on two Jews in the Leningrad trial were removed." Two days later, he emphasized that his paper had "taken in the Leningrad case--as it has in all other important matters--a balanced view, seeing the complete picture." (83)

On May 21, 1971, Vergelis's note "A Soviet Reply on Jews" appeared on the op-ed page of the New York Times. Vergelis opined that Yiddish culture was dramatically declining in the United States while Yiddish literature and theater were booming in the Soviet Union. He also stated that the vast majority of Soviet Jews were "devoted to the same lofty socialist ideals as the other peoples of the Soviet Union and totally reject[ed] the pretensions of Zionism." Those who wished to emigrate could do so, though not "by hijacking airplanes." This article irritated many left-wingers. Bittelman wrote in his (unpublished) angry reply: "Isn't it a shame, Mr. Vergelis, that in a country of Socialism conditions have been created by its leaders that when some of its citizens wish to migrate to Israel, especially when motivated by ideological considerations, they are forced to resort to 'conspiracies' by hijack[ing a] plane?" (84)

Still, the Morgn Frayhayt was among the few non-Soviet Jewish publications and groups that, in July 1971, congratulated the Sovetish Heymland on the occasion of its tenth anniversary. (85) This was the last Morgn Frayhayt's congratulation, because the conflict between the two publications reached a no-return point after the appearance of the November 1971 issue of the Sovetish Heymland with an editorial, criticizing the Morgn Frayhayt for its policy of conciliation with non-Communist Yiddish journalists. From then on, year after year, the ideological gap between Novick's "progressivism" and Soviet Communism, whose Yiddish mouthpiece was Vergelis, widened, dragging an increasing number of people and organizations into the quarrel. For them, Vergelis failed to live up to the notions of Jewish progressiveness and, as a result, became a sort of voodoo doll to be used in a ritual of renouncing lifelong illusions.

Ultimately, Vergelis's relations with the YKUF's literary journal Yidishe Kultur were broken off. The same happened with the Toronto-based newspaper Kanader Vokhnblat when its editor, Joe Gershman, supported the "renegade" Novick. After 1971, Novick's name disappeared from new editions of Vergelis's travel log "Twenty Days in America," which chronicled his 1963 foreign trip. In the later editions, phrases were also cut out, such as the one mentioning that "on the seventh floor, in a modest building at 35 East Twelfth Street pounds and does not stop pounding the courageous heart of Winchevsky's and Olgin's newspaper." (86) In 1977, Vergelis contended that the Morgn Frayhayt was not anymore a "battle forum" of Winchevsky, Olgin, and other legendary founders of the newspaper. Rather, it often aligned with American organizations fighting for human rights of Soviet Jews. (87)

Kicked Out of the Club

Vergelis's new link with American Communists emerged in June 1970, when the CPUSA launched the Jewish Affairs, a newsletter that soon developed into a journal with a couple of pages in Yiddish. It targeted Jewish hardliners and was edited by David Fried, Jack Kling, and Alex Kolkin. Hyman Lumer was its main contributor. Beginning from its first issue, the Jewish Affairs regularly criticized the Mikunis-Sneh party group in Israel and their American sympathizers--the Morgn Frayhayt and the Jewish Currents.

On June 1, 1971, a letter was sent to Novick, signed by three leading communists: Hyman Lumer, Claude Lightfoot, and Jose Ristorucci. They informed Novick that the Political Committee had designated them "as a sub-committee to look into the matter of your status as a member of the Communist Party. In view of your continuing opposition to important aspects of Party policy, as reflected in your speeches and writings and in the editorial policies of the Morning Freiheit, the Political Committee has reached the conclusion that the present state of affairs cannot be permitted to continue." The threesome suggested to Novick that they meet to discuss these issues. They met on June 7. On June 22, Novick mailed to a few addressees, most notably to Gus Hall, a statement he "promised the committee of three." In the covering letter, he underlined the idea that the statement "was drafted and finalized in consultation with comrades of the Morning Freiheit and the leadership of the Jewish mass organizations." He listed his constituency: "the Clubs and Societies, with around 12,000 members, the Women's [Emma Lazarus] organization, the YKUF and reading circles, the choruses and mandolin orchestras, the progressive children's schools and other institutions embrace a mass movement reaching into scores of thousands ..." (88)

Novick could not understand the "inexplicable and even maddening reasons" for branding his newspaper "as racist, white chauvinist." Yet, he explained in his statement that the Middle East was "the issue which prompted your committee to place before me on June 7 the alternative of either resigning from the Communist Party, or be expelled." Therefore, he decided to draw the party leadership's attention to a lesson he had learned from his communist circle's history.
   In the months of August-September 1929 the M[orgn-]F[rayhayt] as
   well as the progressive Jewish organizations were in a crisis in
   connection with the unrest in Palestine at that time. We came into
   a head-on collision with the Jewish community. Although we were
   much stronger numerically at that time and the crisis was much
   milder than the present one and of short duration, we paid dearly
   for our stand, having lost a great many of our readers and having
   weakened our mass base. Years later we were criticized for our lack
   of flexibility, for our failure to avoid this head-on collision
   with the community (from which we were ostracized). That crisis was
   child's play compared to the present one in the Middle East, both
   in intensity and duration, when there is a Jewish State and after
   the Jewish people lost six million men, women and children during
   World War II. There can be no question that were we to apply now in
   relation to the Middle East the tactics of 1929 the MF would long
   ago have ceased to exist and the progressive mass organizations
   would have been shattered, if not totally destroyed.

      [...]

      As of now we are still a force among the Jewish workers, as well
   as in the Jewish community generally to a certain extent. [...] Were
   we to change our position we would be ostracized as in 1929 and
   years following, practically until June 1941. (89)


Why, he wondered, was he suddenly censured in 1971, after four years of "understanding and tolerance," rather than to be attacked in 1967, when he had clearly formulated his position toward the Israel-Arab relations? In conclusion, he defiantly stated: "Since I believe in the importance of the role of a Marxist party, the CP, in the USA, of which I have been a member for over 50 years, I cannot and will not bring myself to resign from it, as suggested by your committee." (90)

In the following months, Lumer and a few other top communists, including Mortimer Daniel Rubin, national organizational secretary, continued the anti-Novick campaign, issuing a statement against him that included charges of "racism." They focused in particular on the movement's fight to free African American activist Angela Davis, an effort that they argued had been downplayed by Novick, who "gave it little more than lip service" in the pages of the Morgn frayhayt. Ironically, even though Jewish communists had been among the leaders of efforts to improve the economic, social and educational status of African Americans since the 1920s, the party leadership in the post-World War II era often used the issue of black-Jewish relations as a tool in their campaign against Jewish particularism. In 1950, for example, several leading Jewish communists were criticized for making "it a habit to go to Miami Beach for vacations." As a place where African Americans were not allowed to sleep overnight, it had to be a no-go zone for communists. (91)

Novick and his newspaper were also accused of supporting Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union. In reality, Soviet Jewish emigration devastatingly disappointed Novick, who saw it as "a tragic development for socialism." Although he could not stand the anti-Zionist hysteria of the Soviet authorities and media, he naively predicted that many of the emigrants would soon flee Israel, "where the worker face[d] a difficult struggle," and return to the Soviet Union. (92) Thus, Novick still confessed doikayt, the cornerstone anti-Zionist (initially Bundist) principle, meaning that Jews should remain in the Diaspora and fight for their national and political rights rather than waste their proletarian energy on building a Jewish state. Granted, Novick's doikayt of 1970 did not negate Israel. Rather, he stressed that Israel, however important it was, had to play a secondary role in the life of American Jews. (93)

In the eyes of his Communist critics, Lumer et al., Novick
   has aligned himself and the Morning Freiheit with the renegade
   Mikunis-Sneh group in Israel, which has abandoned the path of
   Marxism-Leninism and has become little more than an appendage to
   the [Golda] Meir regime and its reactionary foreign policy. In line
   with this, he has repudiated the Communist Party of Israel led by
   Vilner and Toubi, which our Party has recognized as the only true
   Marxist-Leninist party in Israel. (94)


The CPUSA leadership could not forgive Novick his "'balanced' position," which "placed an increasing share of the burden of responsibility on the Soviet Union itself." Moreover, the CPUSA leaders added, "At the time of the Leningrad hijacking trial he signed his name, along with others, to a telegram calling on the Soviet government to free all the defenders." In November 1971, Lumer came to Moscow to participate in an anti-Trotskyist conference, but also for consultations on Zionism-related issues. (95) Eventually, on February 16, 1972, the National Committee expelled Novick from the CPUSA, charging him with "opportunistic capitulation to the pressures of Jewish nationalism and Zionism." (96) While in 1957, at the time of the de-Stalinization crisis, the party was in a sorry state, numbering less than 4,000 members, its membership more than quadrupled by the end of 1972. (97) The outsize influence of the Jewish membership also was a thing of the past. (98) Therefore, the small group of Yiddish-speaking veterans, whose obstinacy became a political burden, could be sacrificed in order to solidify the party and to please the Kremlin. A Sovetish Heymland editorial, entitled "What is Happening in the Morgn Frayhayt," showed that the Soviet side was satisfied with Novick's expulsion. Copies of this article were distributed during the May Day rally in Union Square by a couple of people from the circle of the Jewish Affairs and its English translation came out in the April-May 1972 issue of the journal.

Long Road to Decline

For a year or so after the public break in relations, Novick continued to write detailed and quite friendly letters to Vergelis. Fear of being isolated can explain Novick's desperate attempts to preserve links with the Sovetish Heymland. On July 11, 1972, he shared his thoughts with Vergelis on the Soviet Jewish emigration, arguing that deviations from the "Leninist norms" were at the heart of the problem. In his one-sided analysis, Novick surmised that Soviet Jews voted with their feet, protesting the lack of Jewish cultural institutions and the proliferation of antisemitic publications. On another note, Novick derided the quality of Birobidzhan-related propaganda fiction that Morgn Frayhayt received from the Soviet Union, most notably from APN. The articles describing Jewish life in Birobidzhan sounded so shaky that he simply could not use them. On October 12, 1972, he sent to Vergelis a seven-page, single-spaced letter, signed with the words "for friendship and understanding." (99) However, it was preposterous to expect unqualified friendship or understanding from Vergelis, a seasoned and disciplined ideological warrior. (100)

Novick's links to the communist world had been cut loose and he had to navigate the dwindling circle of his followers, coordinating his movements within the triangle of periodicals of the American Jewish ex-communist left: Morgn frayhayt; Yidishe Kultur, edited by Itche Goldberg (1904-2006); and Jewish Currents, edited by Morris U. Schappes (1907-2004). Novick's minuscule international contacts included the Canadian circle of former communists, grouped around the journal Outlook, and a similar group in Argentina. (101) In the beginning of the 1970s, the Maki group had almost disappeared from the Israeli political landscape. All leading figures of the post-Holocaust Yiddish "renaissance" in Poland had been forced to leave the country. Nonetheless, Novick's paper survived despite all these dramatic transformations of the communist terrain. In general, although the Morgn Frayhayt circle became collateral damage in the communist movement's struggle with its Stalinist legacy, natural causes rather than the trauma of 1956 would lead ultimately to the decline of Yiddish communist activities in the United States. In fact, the Morgn Frayhayt endured longer than, for example, Der Tog, one of the most important New York Yiddish dailies. (102)

Still, the crisis of 1956 played a very significant role, determining the morals of the Yiddish communist circles in the final three decades of its withering. The post-1956 transformation of the group of believers in the Soviet system into an independent "progressive" movement of Jewish socialists had two components: On the one hand, it was a pragmatist decision of such people as Novick, who saw it as the only way to preserve at least some parts of the left-wing Yiddishist circles; on the other hand, many "progressives" sincerely sought to find a new compromise between their socialist and nationalist aspirations. While pragmatism initially dominated the steps and pronouncements of Novick and his ilk, the component of "sincerity" gradually began to determine their ideological tribulations.

Despite Novick's departure from the CPUSA, he remained an irreparably awkward, marginal figure in the American Yiddish world. He was never able to dissociate himself from the past practice of glorifying Stalin. After 1956, his incorrigible devotion to Leninism invited skepticism. Samuel Margoshes, one-time editor of Der Tog, wrote that Novick's ideological concessions were "too weak and too late." (103) Simon Weber was even sharper in his assessment of the Morgn Frayhayt. He admitted that such "progressive" periodicals as the Morgn Frayhayt had "been trying latterly to distance themselves from Moscow, being under the influence of the Italian, Spanish, and other more independent Communists." Yet he considered their political stance to be an affront to Jewish values and interests and he therefore was not ready to accept them in the Jewish press community. (104) No doubt, many of the ideological accusations were, in fact, motivated by personal animosity.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the Morgn Frayhayt's reaction to the events in domestic and international life often did not differ from the reaction of other American Jewish periodicals. In 1984, Schappes commented on the attitude toward Israel adopted by him and by colleagues such as Novick: "We are pro-Israeli but non-Zionist and critical of the Israeli foreign policy since 1953 [when] Israel changed ... from neutralism to alignment with the USA.... We supported Israel in the war of 1967, we supported Israel in the war of 1973, we did not support Israel's invasion in Lebanon." (105) No doubt, this view coincided with that of many Forverts readers, especially those with a Bundist pedigree. Still, the demarcation lines between the two groups, built in the communist past, always remained before the eyes of the Yiddish-reading public. The Morgn Frayhayt endured on the margins of American Jewish life until September 1988, when the small, almost exclusively geriatric circle of readers and writers simply could not maintain its existence any longer. Emblematically, the very last issue marked the beginning of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah.

* Fragments of this article appeared in Gennady Estraikh, Yiddish in the Cold War (Legenda: Oxford, 2008).

(1.) See, in particular, Eric Van Ree, "The Concept of 'National Bolshevism': An Interpretative Essay," Journal of Political Ideologies 6, no. 3 (2001): 289-307.

(2.) John Williamson, "For a United-Front Policy among the Jewish People--Sharpen the Struggle against Bourgeois Nationalism," Political Affairs (July 1950): 62. See also Murray Friedman, Philadelphia Jewish Life, 1940-2000 (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2003), 61.

(3.) Jewish Labor Fights Communism (New York: Jewish Labor Committee, 1950).

(4.) Henry Srebrnik, "Such Stuff as Diaspora Dreams are Made on: Birobidzhan and the Canadian-Jewish Communist Imagination," Canadian Jewish Studies 10 (2002): 77.

(5.) For the Jewish sections in the Bolshevik party, see Zvi Y. Gitelman, Jewish Nationality and Soviet Politics" The Jewish Sections of the CPS U, 191 7-30 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1972). In America, the organized Jewish constituent was a relict of the one-time multi-ethnic structure of the Communist movement. By the mid-1940s, however, very little was left even of the Finnish (once the strongest) constituent--see Peter Kivisto, "The Decline of the Finnish American Left, 1925-1945," International Migration Review 17, no. 1 (1983): 65-94.

(6.) Williamson, "For a United-Front Policy among the Jewish People," 62.

(7.) Yuri Slezkine, The Jewish Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), 209.

(8.) Yaroslav J. Chyz and Read Lewis, "Agencies Organized by Nationality Groups in the United States," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 262 (March 1949): 155.

(9.) "Communist Work among the American Jewish Masses: Resolution of the National Groups Commission of the CPUSA, October 1946," Political Affairs (November 1946): 1044-1045.

(10.) Ibid.

(11.) For the early history of Frayhayt, see Tony Michels, "Socialism with a Jewish Face: The Origins of the Yiddish-Speaking Communist Movement in the United States, 1907-23," in Yiddish and the Left, eds. Gennady Estraikh and Mikhail Krutikov (Oxford: Legenda, 2001), 24-55. For the likely reason of printing a morning paper, see Alfred McClung Lee, The Daily Newspaper in America: The Evolution of a Social Instrument (New York: Octagon Books, 1973), 92: "The morning paper, with a longer period for distribution, meets the needs of a widespread foreign-language public more efficiently than does its evening contemporary."

(12.) Novick's letter to the Yiddish writer David Einhorn, on October 10, 1921--in David Einhorn Papers, RG 277, folder 27. YWO Archives. See also Gennady Estraikh, "Di shpaltung in 1921: der krizis in der yidisher sotsyalistisher bavegung," Forverts, 13 October 2006.

(13.) In fact, "no mass departure of Jewish members (as opposed to fellow-travelers) occurred" in 1939--see James G. Ryan, Earl Browder: The Failure of American Communism (Tuscaloosa, Al.: University of Alabama Press, 1997), 186.

(14.) David A. Shannon, The Decline of American Communism: A History of the Communist Party of the United States since z945 (London: Stevens and Sons, 1960), 90.

(15.) Paul C. Mishler, Raising Reds: The Young Pioneers, Radical Summer Camps, and Communist Political Culture in the United States (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), 131-132.

(16.) Hasia Diner, The Jews of the United States: 2654 to 2000 (Berkley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004), 277.

(17.) See Harrison E. Salisbury, "Soviet Confirms Jews' Execution," The New York Times, 7 March 1956.

(18.) Cf. Aleksandr Orekhov, Sovetskii Soiuz i Pol'sha v gody "ottepeli": iz istorii sovetsko-pol'skikh otnoshenii (Moscow: Indrik, 2005), 92-93.

(19.) Paul Novick, Jewish Life in the United States and the Role of the "Morning Freiheit" (New York: Morgen Freiheit, 1957), 24. See also Gennady Estraikh, "Metamorphoses of Morgn-frayhayt," in Yiddish and the Left, eds. Gennady Estraikh and Mikhail Krutikov (Oxford: Legenda, 2001), 144-166.

(20.) Paul Novick, "Di shtelung tsum sovem-farband," Morgn Frayhayt, 27 January 1957; idem, "Vos far a tsaytung iz di Morgn-frayhayt?" Morgn Frayhayt, 28 January 1957.

(21.) "John Gates Urges New Kind of Party," Daily Worker, 2 November 1956.

(22.) Moshe Olgin, Folk un kultur (New York, 1939), 30-49, 58. See also Bat-Ami Zucker, "American Jewish Communists and Jewish Culture in the 1930s," Modern Judaism 14, no. 2 (1944): 180-181.

(23.) Maurice Isserman, Which Side Were You on? The American Communist Party During the Second World War (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1982), 243.

(24.) Alex Bittelman, "Things I Have Learned" (Autobiographical typescript, 1963). Collection 62, box 1, page 691; Tamiment Library/Robert E Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

(25.) "Communist Work among the American Jewish Masses," 1035.

(26.) "Transcript of Proceedings. Passport Hearing in the Matter of Paul Novick. April 6, 1956." Department of State, Washington, D.C., p. 9, 14, 15. A number of Yiddish newspapers relied upon an association linked with various groups of readers. The Forward Association, which published the Forverts, was an integral part of the American Jewish socialist landscape, including the Workmen's Circle, trade unions, and landsmanshaftn. The Paris-based Communist Yiddish daily Di Naye Prese (New Press) had a network of about 3,000 friends and fundraisers--see Aline Benain and Audrey Kichelewski, "Parizer Haynt et Naie Presse, les itineraries paradoxaux de deux quotidiens parisiens en kangue Yiddish," Archives juives 36, no. 1 (2003): 52-69.

(27.) "Faces Denaturalization," The New York Times, 26 August 1953; "Acts to Denaturalize Editor," The New York Times, 28 August 1953; "U.S. Merges Suits against Six Reds," The New York Times, 24 December 1954; "The Inquisition of Paul Novick," Jewish Life 9, no. 10 (1955): 14-15.

(28.) Paul Novick, Amerikanishe yidn, der tsienizm, medines yisroel (New York: Morgen Freiheit, 1972), 39.

(29.) They established a separate Workmen's Circle branch, no. 44, which they called "Bergelson Branch"--see Y. Shmulevitsh, "Der nayer 'Dovid Bergelson brentsh' 44 arbeter ring," Forverts, 11 June 1957.

(30.) Isserman, Which Side Were You On?, 36.

(31.) See, e.g.., "Foreign Press Editors Silent at Quiz," The Washington Post, 18 January 1955.

(32.) Arthur J. Sabin, "A Voice of the Jewish Left," Response 15, no. 3 (1987): 54.

(33.) Harry Schwartz, "Reds Renounced by Howard Fast," The New York Times, 1 February 1957; "Howard Fast Balks at Queries on Reds," The New York Times, 22 February 1957.

(34.) Paul Novick's YIVO archival collection RG1247, folder 55.

(35.) See Howard Fast, "My Decision," Mainstream 10, no. 3 (1957): 29-38; The Editors, "A Comment," ibid, 39-47; "More Comments on Howard Fast," Mainstream 10, no. 4 (1957): 42-56.

(36.) Y. Khaimson, "Literaturnaya gazeta shtelt-fest az der poet Perets Markish iz toyt," Forverts, 28 January 1956; Ben Zion Goldberg, The Jewish Problem in the Soviet Union: Analysis and Solution (New York, 1961), 112-13.

(37.) Harrison E. Salisbury, "Writers in the Shadow of Communism," The New York Times, 9 June 1957.

(38.) William Z. Foster, "Howard Fast's Call to Surrender," Daily Worker, 17 June 1957. On May 23, 1957, Foster wrote in his letter to the National Executive Committee of the CPUSA: "During the past year the Party has been grossly over-criticized, even slanderously attacked, to its grave detriment; its fundamental Marxism-Leninism has been belittled, distorted, and undermined, and its confidence in the Soviet Union, because of lop-sided criticism, has been seriously damaged--by its own members and leaders."--Collection 17 (Morris U. Schappes Papers), box 1, Correspondence, 1957-1959; Tamiment Library Archives, New York University.

(39.) Simon Weber, "Hauard Fest dertseylt farvos er iz avek fun di komunistn," Forverts, 2 August 1957; 4 August 1957.

(40.) Simon Weber, transcript of an interview, William E. Wiener Oral History Library of the American Jewish Committee, New York Public Library Oral Histories, box 229, no. 6 (1984): 1-32.

(41.) Arkady Vaksberg, Stalin against the Jews, trans. By Antonina W. Bouis (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994), 166.

(42.) Borukh Fenster, "Redaktor fun komunistisher Frayhayt iz a biterer soyne fun yidishn folk," Forverts, 16 February 1956.

(43.) Williamson, "For a United-Front Policy among the Jewish People--Sharpen the Struggle against Bourgeois Nationalism," 63.

(44.) "Howard Fast Assailed by Soviet as a 'Deserter' and Slanderer," The New York Times, 25 August 1957. Ironically, articles disowning Fast for his "traitorous activities" would appear as part of the Soviet anti-Zionist campaign, though Fast did not reveal himself as a supporter of Zionism--Evreiskaia emigratsiia v svete novykh dokumentov, ed. Boris Morozov (Tel Aviv: Ivrus, 1998), 29.

(45.) Paul Novick's YIVO archival collection RG1247, folder 55.

(46.) Ibid.

(47.) Ibid.

(48.) Howard Fast, Being Red (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990), 330.

(49.) Ibid., 206. See also Maurice Isserman, "It Seemed a Good Idea at the Time," The New York Times, 4 November 1990. Still, some historians cite Being Red as a document--see, e.g., Albert D. Chernin, "Making Soviet Jews an Issue" in A Second Exodus: The American Movement to Free Soviet Jews, eds. Murray Friedman and Albert D. Chernin (Hanover, MH: University Press of New England, 1999), 18-19.

(50.) Paul Novick, The Jewish Problem in Poland (New York: Morgen Freiheit, 1969), 2.

(51.) Hersh Smolar, Oyf der letster pozitsye mit der letster hofenung (Tel Aviv, Y. L. Peretz-farlag, 1982), 248-50; Eleonora Bergman, "Yiddish in Poland after 1945," in Yiddish and the Left, eds. Gennady Estraikh and Mikhail Krutikov (Oxford: Legenda, 2001), 167-177; Nathan Cohen, "The Renewed Association of Yiddish Writers and Journalists in Poland, 1945-48," in Yiddish after the Holocaust, ed. Joseph Sherman (Oxford: Boulevard Books, 2004), 15-36.

(52.) Stephen S. Kaplan, "United States Aid to Poland, 1957-1964: Concerns, Objectives and Obstacles," The Western Political Quarterly 28, no. 1 (1935): 147-166.

(53.) Estraikh, "Metamorphoses of Morgn-frayhayt," 152-3. For Salsberg, see also Gerald Tulchinsky, "Family Quarrel: Joe Salsberg, the 'Jewish' Question and Canadian Communism," Labour/Le Travail 56 (2005): 149-174.

(54.) Gennady Estraikh, "The Warsaw Outlets for Soviet Yiddish Writers," in Under the Red Banner: Yiddish Culture in the Communist Countries in the Postwar Era, eds. Elvira Grozinger and Magdalena Ruta (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2008), 222-223.

(55.) Estraikh, "Metamorphoses of Morgn-frayhayt," 153.

(56.) A. Wiseman and O. Pick, "Soviet Jews under Khrushchev," Commentary 27, no. 2 (1959): 129.

(57.) "Grandyeze Sholem Aleykhem fayerungen in Ratnfarband," Folks-Shtime, 5 March 1959. See also Jonathan Karp, "Performing Black-Jewish Symbiosis: The 'Hassidic Chant' of Paul Robeson," American Jewish History 91, no. 1 (2003): 53-81.

(58.) Cf. Paul Novick, "Getseylte teg mit Arn Vergelis," Yidishe Kultur 10 (1963): 41-3.

(59.) Andhil Fineberg, transcript of interview, William E. Wiener Oral History Library of the American Jewish Committee, New York Public Library Oral Histories, box 24, no. 1 (1974): 5-208, 5-210.

(60.) Simon Weber, "Vos a komunist zogt vegn sorer antisemitizm," Forverts, 3 April 1964.

(61.) "World Reaction--Soviet Confusion: Western Communists Join in Protests," Jews in Eastern Europe 2, no. 5 (1964): 25.

(62.) Isi Leibler, Soviet Jewry and Human Rights (Melbourne: Human Rights Publications, 1965), 52, 55, 58-60.

(63.) Paul Novick, "S'iz do a velt mit arbet," Sovetish Heymland, no. 2 (1965): 130-2.

(64.) "Pravda o polozhenii evreev v Sovetskom Soiuze. Vstrecha s glavnym redaktorom amerikanskoi evreiskoi gazety Morning-Freikheit Paulem Novikom" (APN, 23 November 1964). Paul Novick's YIVO archival collection RG1247, folder 16.

(65.) Novick, The Jewish Problem in Poland, 5; See also The End of a Thousand Years: The Recent Exodus of the Jews from Poland, eds. Itche Goldberg and Yuri Suhl (New York: Committee for Jews of Poland, 1971) and Dariusz Stola, Kampania antysyjonistyczna w Polsce, 1967-1968 (Warsaw: Instytut Studiow Politycznych PAN, 2000).

(66.) Novick, The Jewish Problem in Poland, 7.

(67.) See, e.g., Paul Novick, "The New Jew in the Soviet Union," in Paul Novick and J. M. Budish, Jews in the Soviet Union: Citizens and Builders (New York: Morgen Freiheit, 1948), 21.

(68.) Novick, The Jewish Problem in Poland, 7.

(69.) Sid Resnik, "Peysekh Novik, redaktor fun der Morgn-Frayhayt," Di Pen 30 (1997): 6.

(70.) War and Peace in the Middle East (New York, 1967), 1.

(71.) Cf. David Plotke, "EuroCommunism and the American Left," in The Politics of EuroCommunism: Socialism in Transition, eds. Carl Boggs and David Plotke (Boston: South End Press, 1980), 399.

(72.) Letter to B. Z. Goldberg, June 21, 1968. Alex Bittelman Papers; collection 62.1; box 1; folder 13; Tamiment Library/Robert E Wagner Labor Archives, New York University. As early as 1942, Bittelman was thinking about "the possibilities that, with time, there will emerge a new form of Jewish national existence for Jews living in Palestine"--cited in Isserman, Which Side Were You On?, 173.

(73.) Ronald Koziol, "Top Leaders of U.S. Reds are Purged," Chicago Tribune, 2 October 1969.

(74.) Peter Kihss, "US Reds Assail 2 Jewish Papers," The New York Times, 30 March 1969.

(75.) Letter to Paul Novick, April 16, 1969. Alex Bittelman Papers; collection 62.1; box 3; folder 1; Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

(76.) Leibler, Soviet Jewry and Human Rights, 61; Paul Novick's YIVO archival collection RG1247, folder 300.

(77.) The majority of Sovetish Heymland readers were Soviet residents--see Gennady Estraikh, "The Era of Sovetish Heymland: Readership of the Yiddish Press in the Former Soviet Union," East European Jewish Affairs 25, no. 1 (1995): 17-22.

(78.) Paul Novick's YIVO archival collection RG1247, folder 300.

(79.) Jonathan Frankel, "The Soviet Regime and Anti-Zionism: An Analysis," in Jewish Cultural Identity in the Soviet Union, eds. Yaacov Ro'i and Avi Beker (New York: New York University Press, 1991), 337.

(80.) Documents on Soviet Jewish Emigration, ed. Boris Morozov (London: Frank Cass, 1999), 70.

(81.) Quoted in Shlomo Vilensky, "A Letter to the Morning Freiheit," Jewish Affairs 1, no. 1 (1970): 6.

(82.) Laurie P. Salitan, Politics and Nationality in Contemporary Soviet-Jewish Emigration, 1968-89 (Houndmills and London: Macmillan, 1992), 32-37.

(83.) See Joseph Levy, "The Morning Freiheit's 'Balanced' Approach," Jewish Affairs 2, no. 2-3 (1971): 6-9.

(84.) Alex Bittelman, "A Reply to a Reply." Alex Bittelman Papers; collection 62.1; box 1; folder 8; Tamiment Library/Robert E Wagner Labor Archives, New York University.

(85.) "Bagrisungen tsum zhurnal 'Sovetish heymland,'" Sovetish Heymland 7 (1971): 10-15.

(86.) Cf, e.g., the following two editions: Azoy lebn mir: dokumentale noveln, fartseykhenungen, reportazhn, ed. Aron Vergelis (Moscow: Sovetskii Pisatel, 1964), 431 and Aron Vergelis, Rayzes (Moscow: Sovetskii Pisatel, 1976), 32. The pioneer Jewish proletarian poet and journalist Morris Winchevsky (1856-1932) was one of the founders of Frayhayt.

(87.) "Di 'Morgn-Frayhayt' af fremde vegn fun antisovetizm un protsienizm," Sovetish Heymland 5 (1977): 140-1.

(88.) Paul Novick's YIVO archival collection RG1247, folder 34.

(89.) Ibid.

(90.) Ibid.

(91.) Williamson, "For a United-Front Policy among the Jewish People--Sharpen the Struggle against Bourgeois Nationalism," 66. No doubt, the criticism targeted, in particular, Alex Binelman--cf. "Bittelman, Red Leader, Arrested by FBI in Miami for Deportation," The New York Times, 17 January 1948. See also Deborah Dash Moore, To the Golden Cities: Pursuing the American Dream in Miami and L.A. (New York: Free Press, 1994), 167; Raymond A. Mohl, "'South of the South'": Jews, Blacks, and the Civil Rights Movement in Miami, 1945-1960," in The Civil Rights Movement, ed. by Jack E. Davis (Oxford: Blackwells Publishers, 2001), 110-122..

(92.) Novick, Amerikanishe yidn, der tsienizm, medines yisroel, 41.

(93.) Paul Novick, Di natsionale un yidishe frage in itstikn moment (New York: Morgen Freiheit, 1970), 30; idem, "Tsienizm un anti-tsienizm," Zamlungen 59 (1976): 16-17.

(94.) paul Novick's YIVO archival collection RG1247, folder 34.

(95.) Evreiskaia emigratsiia v svete novykh dokumentov, 121.

(96.) Paul Novick's YIVO archival collection RG1247, folder 34; "U.S. Communists Say Yiddish Paper Serves 'Imperialism'," The New York Times, 15 May 1977. Novick's expulsion was made public in Der Veg, the Yiddish newspaper of Israeli Communists, on 9 May 1973--see Resnik, "Peysekh Novik, redactor fun der Morgn-Frayhayt," 6.

(97.) Guenter Lewy, The Course that Failed: Communism in American Political Life (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990), 308.

(98.) By 1989, the CPUSA had only around 300 Jewish members--see Herbert Romestein and Eric Breindel, The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2000), 391.

(99.) Paul Novick's YIVO archival collection RG1247, folder 300.

(100.) Cf. Gennady Estraikh, "Aron Vergelis: The Perfect Jewish Homo Sovieticus," East European Jewish Affairs 27, no. 2 (1997): 3-20.

(101.) See, in particular, Leonardo Senkman, "Repercussions of the Six-Day War in the Leftist Jewish Argentine Camp: The Rise of Fraie Schtime, 1967-1969," in Eli Lederhendler (ed.), The Six-Day War and World Jewry (Bethesda, Md.: University of Maryland, 2000), 175-176.

(102.) Der Tog merged in 1953 with the conservative newspaper Morgn-Zhurnal; the Tog-Morgn-Zhurnal endured until 1973--see Charles A. Madison, Jewish Publishing in America: The Impact of Jewish Writing on American Culture (New York: Sanhedrin Press, 1976), 127.

(103.) A briv fun Dr. Sh. Margoshes un an entfer fun P. Novik (New York: Morgen Freiheit, 1967), 4.

(104.) Velt-konferents far yidish un yidisher kultur (Tel Aviv: Velt-byuro far yidish un yidisher kultur, 1977), 161-162.

(105.) Morris U. Schappes, transcript of interview, William E. Wiener Oral History Library of the American Jewish Committee, New York Public Library Oral Histories, box 228, no. 3 (1984): 2-86, 2-87.
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