Politics and Government: Communism

Displaying 1 - 25 of 50

Ray Alexander (Simons)

Ray Alexander has devoted her life to the struggle for human rights and equality in South Africa. Embedded in a Marxist tradition rooted in her Latvian origins, she sought justice for workers and liberty for the oppressed.

Artists: Russia and the Soviet Union

Women in general and Jewish women in particular have been participating in the artistic life of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union for over a hundred years.

Angelica Balabanoff with David Ben Gurion, Tel Aviv, 1962

Angelica Balabanoff

Angelica Balabanoff was one of the best-known and widely beloved figures of European socialism in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Yokheved Bat-Miriam (Zhelezhniak)

“The distance that lies/between you and me/I’ll cross completely/and come before you./All of its blueness/I’ll conquer/and like a breath, swallow it,/and come/to tell you something./What shall I say?” These are the opening lines of one of Yokheved Bat-Miriam’s earliest poetry cycles, Me-Rahok (From Afar), a work that differs in form from much of her later poetry but nevertheless presages many of its themes and motifs.

Edith Fraenke of the Baum Gruppe

Baum Gruppe: Jewish Women

On May 18, 1942, two anti-Nazi Communist groups set fire to the anti-Soviet exhibit, Das Sowjetparadies (The Soviet Paradise), which was held in the Lustgarten in Berlin. The larger, leading group of the two, almost entirely Jewish in its composition and led by Herbert Baum, was known as the Baum Gruppe.

Elisabeth Bergner, 1935

Elisabeth Bergner

One of the most successful and popular stage and screen actresses in pre-World War II Germany, “die Bergner,” as she was known, was born on August 22, 1897 in Drobycz, Austrian Galicia, to a merchant, Emil Ettel (d. 1934) and Anna Rosa (née Wagner).

Jane Bowles

“That genius imp, that laughing, hilarious, tortured elf” was how Truman Capote described the writer Jane Bowles, who, with her composer-writer husband Paul Bowles, became the center of an avant-garde circle in Morocco. Her darkly comic, original work was admired by writers such as Capote, Tennessee Williams, John Ashbery, and Alice B. Toklas.

Bund

Jewish women played leading roles in the formative years of the General Jewish Workers’ Bund, which was established in the Tsarist Empire in 1897, and initially participated in the movement in large numbers. However, the Bund seems to have had somewhat less success in mobilizing women in independent Poland between the two world wars than it had during the Tsarist era.

Kim Chernin

Kim Chernin

Ranging from poetry to investigations of women’s eating disorders, from fictional autobiography to the story of a voice, Kim Chernin’s works radiate the “spiritual politics” she considers the essence of her Jewishness.

Rose Chernin

Ambivalent about Judaism, passionately Marxist, charismatic, courageous, Rose Chernin devoted a great deal of her life to securing the rights of disenfranchised citizens: the unemployed of the Depression, farm workers without a union, black home buyers thwarted by redlining, and other foreign-born leftists, like herself, who faced deportation in the 1950s.

Rose Pastor Stokes at Table

Communism in the United States

In the forty years following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, communism was the most dynamic force in American left-wing politics and a primary mobilizer of radical Jewish women. At the center of this movement lay the American Communist Party, which grew out of various radical factions inspired by the October Revolution. In December 1921, most of these groups came together as the Workers Party, renamed the Communist Party USA (CP) in 1930.

Friedl Dicker-Brandeis

More than half a century after the death of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis, researchers from many countries and from diverse disciplines began to express a new interest in her, focusing respectively on her paintings, furniture and stage designs, and her teaching in Theresienstadt (Terezin), a ghetto established by the Germans in Czechoslovakia.

Ruth First

Ruth First

Ruth First was a prolific writer and her penetrating investigative journalism exposed many of the harsh conditions under which the majority of South Africans lived. As various restrictions prevented her from continuing her work as a journalist Ruth First became more and more involved with the underground movement that was changing its tactics from protest to sabotage.

Esther Frumkin

Esther (1880–1943) was the pseudonym of the Jewish educator, writer, and socialist-turned-communist, Malkah Lifchitz. Her married names were Frumkin and later Wichmann. An independent thinker and a unique woman in the Jewish labor movement, Esther devoted her life to leftist political activity in Russia and later the Soviet Union.

Natalia Ginzburg

Arguably the most important woman writer of post-World War II Italy, Natalia Ginzburg was born on July 14, 1916 in Palermo (Sicily), where her Jewish Trieste-born father, Giuseppe Levi, who later achieved fame as a biologist and histologist, was at the time a lecturer in comparative anatomy. Modest and intensely reserved, Ginzburg never shied away from the traumas of history, whether writing about the Turin of her childhood, the Abruzzi countryside or contemporary Rome—all the while approaching those traumas only indirectly, through the mundane details and catastrophes of personal life.

Mire Gola

Mire Gola

A passionate idealist, Mire Gola organized anti-German resistance in World War II as a Communist in occupied Poland. She inspired others with her eloquent poetry and her fortitude through imprisonment and torture.

Lillian Hellman

Lillian Hellman was born on June 20, 1905, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her parents, Max and Julia (Newhouse) Hellman, were both German-American Jews. Her mother’s family was wealthy and later became the models (though stripped of Jewish identity) for Hellman’s most famous creations, the Hubbards, in her two plays The Little Foxes and Another Part of the Forest. Max Hellman’s sisters Hannah and Jenny were similarly the basis for the central characters in one of Hellman’s last plays, Toys in the Attic.

Agnes Keleti training a student

Agnes Keleti

Born on January 9, 1921 in Budapest, Hungary, Agnes Keleti is the most successful Jewish female athlete in Olympic history. With ten Olympic medals from three Olympic Games, she stands third all-time among women for the most Olympic medals and fourth all-time as an Olympic gold medal winner.

Portrait of Helene Khatskels, circa 1920.

Helene Khatskels

In its commitment to socialism, diaspora Jewish nationalism, and Yiddish secular education, the life of the Yiddish pedagogue and writer Helene Khatskels closely reflects the history and ideals of the Jewish Labor Bund, which she actively supported. Her unfaltering devotion to her pupils, evident from both her own writings and writings about her, makes her stand out in the charged atmosphere of East European Jewish politics in the early twentieth century.

Carol Weiss King

Carol Weiss King was one of the outstanding practitioners of immigration law during the period bounded by the Palmer Raids and the McCarthy era. In her thirty-year career, she represented hundreds of foreign-born radicals threatened with deportation in administrative proceedings in the lower courts and in the Supreme Court.

Bella Lewitzky

For more than six decades, Bella Lewitzky, a maverick in the world of modern dance, distinguished herself as a preeminent performer, choreographer, artistic director, educator, public speaker, and civic activist. With an unshakable preference for living in the West, she defied norms that posited New York City as the center of American dance, maintaining the Lewitzky Dance Company in Los Angeles for over thirty years. She was also known for two highly publicized encounters with the federal government, risking professional ostracism to stand upon principle.

Mischket Liebermann

Born on November 18, 1905, Mischket Liebermann was the fifth of eight children in a poor family that lived in the Galician (Yiddish) Small-town Jewish community in Eastern Europe.shtetl of Tytschin (Tyczyn), which had two synagogues. The one that had a golden dome was where the rich prayed, while the old ramshackle one served the poor. This was where her father, Pinchus Elieeser Liebermann, served as rabbi. Fearing pogroms, the family fled to Berlin in 1914. Here, living in the slum Scheunenviertel, her father soon gathered an orthodox congregation around him and established a synagogue in the Grenadierstrasse. As his daughter lovingly describes him, he was in constant movement, a one-man service combination, who cared for his flock from the cradle to the grave, as mohel (circumciser) and Lit. "son of the commandment." A boy who has reached legal-religious maturity and is now obligated to fulfill the commandmentsBar Mitzvah teacher, as celebrant at weddings, as a dayan granting divorce, as leader of prayers and as a judge in the ghetto.

Hildegard Löwy

Born in 1922, Hildegard Löwy was the youngest member of the Baum Gruppe, a mainly Jewish resistance group against the Nazi regime in Berlin. She belonged to the sub-group of Heinz Joachim, which operated jointly with Herbert Baum’s group.

Rosa Luxemburg

Rosa Luxemburg was a socialist revolutionary known for her critical perspective. Born in Poland, Luxemburg had become an important figure in the world socialist movement by 1913. She argued against Lenin’s hierarchal conception of party organization, and against revisionism. Luxemburg was internationalist in orientation and unflinchingly dedicated to a radical democratic vision.

GIl Marcus, Nelson Mandela, and Michael Katz, December 1990

Gill Marcus

Gill Marcus, who never married, was born in Johannesburg in 1949. Her grandparents were from Lithuania but her parents, Molly and Nathan, were born in South Africa. Both her parents were members of the South African Communist Party and from an early age Gill was made aware of the iniquities of apartheid; the Marcus home, open to people across the color line, was very different from that of the average white South African household.

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