In the years between the two world wars, the Jewish community
of Poland-the largest in Europe-was the cultural heart of the
Jewish diaspora. The Jewish Workers' Bund, which had a socialist,
secularist, Yiddishist, and anti-Zionist orientation, won a series of
important electoral battles in Poland on the eve of the Second
World War and became a major political party. While many earlier
works on the politics of Polish Jewry have suggested that Bundist
victories were not of lasting significance or attributable to outside
forces, Jack Jacobs argues convincingly that the electoral success
of the Bund was linked to the work of the constellation of cultural
and other organizations revolving around the party.
The Bund offered its constituents innovative, highly attractive,
programs and a more enlightened perspective: from new sexual
mores to sporting organizations and educational institutions.
Drawing on meticulously researched archival materials, Jacobs
shows how the growth of these successful programs translated into
a stronger, more robust party. At the same time, he suggests the
Bund's limitations, highlighting its failed women's movement.
Jacobs provides a fascinating account of this countercultural movement
and a thoughtful revision to the accepted view.