The Key to Bernie Sanders’s Appeal Isn’t Socialism. It’s Yiddish Socialism.


The Forward has the article The Key to Bernie Sanders’s Appeal Isn’t Socialism. It’s Yiddish Socialism.

In this brief moment, Sanders illustrated the central tenets of Yiddish Socialism, the dominant political and cultural current among the working-class Jews of Brooklyn where Sanders was born at the end of the Great Depression. In New York and elsewhere, Yiddish Socialists in the early 20th century founded and invigorated fraternal societies, newspapers, schools, athletic leagues, summer camps, theaters and, especially, unions. The immigrant generation were inspired by their experiences in the revolutionary movements in Russia, where intellectuals and militants from up to 100 ethnic groups learned to respect their own and one another’s cultures to be able to speak with and rally ordinary peasants and workers to fight the oppression of the Czarist State.

This article explains why my sensibilities and Bernie Sanders sensibilities line up so well.

In response to William Kilmer’s post, Jeffrey Robert Broido said “As an ethnic though non-observant, not believing Jew, I certainly agree.” I am in the same category as Jeffrey Robert Broido.

My grandfather came from Russia, read the Daily Forward in Yiddish, and was a socialist of the kind mentioned in the article. I didn’t come anywhere near understanding the socialism part of him as I was growing up, but I find myself coming nearer and nearer to his beliefs as I mature. The Jewish sensibility that is described in this article is the sensibility I grew up with and the sensibility that grows stronger as I better understand how the world works.

I have come a long way since the days when I voted for Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Most of the Democratic Party leaders have not been coming with me except for Bernie Sanders, Alan Grayson, and Elizabeth Warren. Even Barnie Frank has clung to the old neo-liberal ways. I used to have such respect for Barney. I think Father Robert Drinan, Barney Frank’s predecessor as US Representative, would be with Bernie and not Barney if he were still around today.

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