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Conference: Yiddish Anarchism

Yiddish Anarchism: New Scholarship on a Forgotten Tradition January 20, 2019 New York, NY

Yiddish-speaking Jewish anarchists were one of the pillars of the U.S. anarchist movement before World War II. This largely immigrant radical milieu was centered in New York City and opposed capitalism, the state, and organized religion. Yiddish-speaking anarchists built militant unions, anarchist newspapers, and other organizations to further their cause. Many famous anarchists were linked to this movement, including Johann Most, Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, and Rudolf Rocker. Yiddish-speaking anarchists played a pivotal role in unions like the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU), while the Yiddish anarchist newspaper the Fraye Arbeter Shtime (The Free Voice of Labor) was the largest and longest-lasting U.S. anarchist publication and formed a significant part of the Yiddish cultural landscape. In the 1930s a second generation of bilingual Jewish anarchists emerged, including Sam and Esther Dolgoff, and Audrey Goodfriend, whose influence is still felt in today’s anarchist movement.

Despite the importance of Yiddish anarchism to the histories of both the U.S. Left and the Jewish community, it has been largely forgotten and written out of historical scholarship. This conference, the first of its kind, highlights the emerging new scholarship on the forgotten world of Yiddish-speaking anarchists. It brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars whose multilingual research examines the origin, evolution, and contributions of Jewish anarchism in New York City and beyond.

Scholars presenting will include Kenyon Zimmer, Tom Goyens, Anna Elena Torres, Mark Grueter, Nina Gurianova, Tony Michels, Reynolds Hahamovitch, Lilian Türk, Diana Clarke, and Anatole Dolgoff.

(Please note: the conference will be conducted in English.)

Contact Info: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY