Red Seder

by cominsitu

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Bdikas khomets (Search for leaven). Illustration from the first edition of Hagadah far gloybers un apikorsim (Passover story for believers and atheists). Kharkov, 1923.

Blessed is October, dictator of the proles, who produces, distributes, and consumes the earth’s harvest.

In Berlin 5777, a new communist Haggadah for a Red Passover Seder was brought forth into the world. It replaces the communist Haggadah of  Brooklyn, 5771. This new one is the first Red Haggadah since the Jewish Bolsheviks used them in the 1920s. I now offer it here for use (the Hebrew text came out backwards, unfortunately). The historical background text is below, but to do an actual seder, one must download the Haggadah and follow the steps. Love live October 5778!

Download the Haggadah for a RED SEDER: to read/ to print


 

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The celebration of Passover is traditionally associated with the spirit of freedom and independence. The seder ceremony features a special menu, the reading of the Haggadah (the retelling of the story of Exodus), songs, and even games. Passover is also the only Jewish celebration whose ritual requires dialogue between children and parents. All this creates an ideal basis for the introduction of new concepts in a popular, well-known format. By the end of the nineteenth century Jewish radicals in Poland, the United States, and Canada were employing the Passover seder for the promotion of political views as well as a way to criticize their opponents. Various political movements organized political seders in interwar Poland.

Soviet Jewish activists, too, did not miss the opportunity to use Passover as a propaganda tool. In 1921 the Central Bureau of the Bolshevik Party’s Evsektsii sent instructions to all local branches to organize “Red Passovers.” Popular brochures that came to be known as “Red Haggadahs” were published, specifying how to conduct the alternative celebrations. Many were written by local activists following a series of centrally directed patterns. One of these was the Komsomolishe Haggadah  (Komsomol Haggadah), published in Moscow in 1923 by Moyshe Altshuler. Traditionally the start of Passover (an eight-day holiday during which the consumption of bread or leavened products and yeast is forbidden) is marked with the Bdikas khometz —a search for all remaining traces of leavened food, followed by its burning. In Altshuler’s Komsomolishe Haggadah, this ceremony was transformed as follows:

Ten years ago [in 1917] the working class of Russia with the help of peasants searched for khometz (leaven) in our land. They cleaned away all the traces of landowners and bourgeois bosses in the country and took power in their own hands. They took the land from the landowners, plants and factories from the capitalists; they fought the enemies of the workers on all fronts. In the fire of the great socialist revolution, the workers and peasants burned Kochak, Yudenich, Vrangel, Denikin, Pilsudskii, Petlyura, Chernov, Khots, Dan, Martov, and Abramovich. They recited the blessing: “All landowners, bourgeois and their helpers—Mensheviks, Esers, Kadets, Bundists, Zionists, Esesovtses, Eesovtses, Poaley Zionists, Tsaarey-tsienikes, and all other counterrevolutionaries should be burned in the flame of revolution. Those who are burned should not ever survive, and the rest should be given to us and we shall transfer them to the hands of the GPU.

The Komsomol Haggadah combines all enemies of the Soviet regime as khometz, and recommends burning them. Equating antagonists who were notoriously anti-Jewish, such as the commander of the White Army Alexei Denikin, to Jewish Soviet opponents, such as Bundists or Zionists, was a popular method of Soviet propaganda. It was not important why or how but simply that they were portrayed as being equally obnoxious.

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Haggadah shel pesakh (Story of Passover), cover from the second edition. Drawing by Alexander Tyshler. Moscow, 1927.

Every seder ritual was transformed in the Soviet Haggadah. The traditional handwashing and blessing before the meal became a political statement:

Wash off all the bourgeois mud, wash off the mold of generations, and do not say a blessing, say a curse. Devastation must come upon all the old rabbinical laws and customs, yeshivas and khaydorim, that becloud and enslave the people.

Soviet ideologists saw a clear need to create viable alternatives to established rituals and holidays for Jews. They considered that, during the transition period, these rituals had to be based on Jewish traditions and then gradually lead to the establishment of completely new Soviet holidays. In the 1920s these holidays were used both as propaganda against the old religion and promotion of the new political system and ideology. The most notable attempt was the organization of alternative Passover and Yom Kippur celebrations.

An editorial, “Far vos zaynen komunistn kegn religye” (Why Communists are against religion), and an article, “Fun vanen shtampt roshashane un yomkiper” (The origins of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), both by I. Yakhin, argue that Judaism spefically uses the fall holidays to exploit poor. Caricatures and skits, which parodied Jewish holy books and traditions, supplemented these theoretical explanations. The point was driven home by labeling books, songs, and even prayers as “capitalist.” For example, the thirteen principles of the Jewish faith (ani maamin) were called “Der kapitalistisher ani maamin” (The capitalist principles of belief) in an article written by P. Lafarg in Der apikoyres.

“Der kapitalistisher ani maamin” predictably replaces God with money:

  1. I believe that capitalism rules over body and over soul.
  2. I believe in spirit (the capitalist child) and in credit (that originates from it).
  1. I believe in gold and silver, from which an altar is made in order to breathe a soul into paper money.
  1. I believe in a 5 percent rent increase and also in a 4.3 percent inflation of paper money.

  1. I believe in extending the working day.
  2. I believe in a constant decrease in salary.
  3. I believe in fooling the public and falsifying products.

….

  1. I believe in the eternal principles of our holy faith, the official political economy.

Der kapitalistisher ani maamin” expresses the essence of Soviet arguments against capitalism in a form familiar to traditional Jews. Ironically this form derives from the text that summarizes the essence of Judaism. Yet the new ani maamin is not offered as a surrogate replacement for the religious text. Rather, it works as an aid to the transition from religion to atheism, capitalism to socialism and “backwardness” to “modernism.” Once these goals are achieved, texts like this one will not be needed.

A similar principle is used in rewritten popular short stories, jokes, articles, theatrical performances, and songs, which are parodied in order to convey a new Soviet message. An example is a remake of the Yiddish song “Zol ikh zayn a rov” (Let me be a rabbi). Here is the original song:

Zol ikh zayn a rov,

Ken ikh nit keyn toyre!

Zol ikh zayn a soykher,

Hob ikh nit keyn skhoyre.

Vil ikh zayn a shoykhet,

Hob ikh nit keyn khalef,

Vil ikh zayn a melamed,

Ken ikh nit keyn alef.

Let me be a rabbi,

I don’t know the Torah!

Let me be a merchant,

I don’t possess goods.

I want to be a shoykhet,

I don’t have a ritual knife.

I want to be a melamed,

I don’t know the alphabet.

The published Soviet parody reverses the meaning of the old song:

Zol ikh zayn a rov,

Keyner darf mayn toyre!

Mitsves un maysim toyvim

Iz gor a knape skhoyre!

Keyner efnt nit mayn tir,

Nit keyn khupe, nit keyn get,

S’bageyt zikh shoyn on mir!

Let me be a rabbi,

Nobody needs my Torah!

The commandments and good deeds

Are now useless goods!

Nobody opens my door,

No wedding, no divorce,

People get along without me!

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Dayenu (Enough), a page from a special Passover
edition  of Der apikoyres. Moscow, 1929.

The Komsomol Haggadah at times altered the order of activities. Its style also differed from the traditional Haggadah, as the Soviet publication was geared for a different audience, a meeting of friends rather than family. The following provocative questions are modeled after the four questions in the original Haggadah

Why is Passover not a true festival of the Jewish people if all Jews celebrate their release from slavery? Is it not harmful for young workers to refuse to celebrate it? You always teach us to hate slavery and show how necessary it is to struggle for freedom. You have festivals like May Day and the [anniversary of the] October Revolution, and all the workers go to demonstrations, so why can’t we celebrate the liberation from Egypt and regard this as the national day of Jewish freedom?

Indeed, some Soviet Haggadah texts provide more moderate explanations. They simply replace “God” with the “October Revolution”:

We were slaves of capital until October came and led us out of the land of exploitation with a strong hand, and if it were not for October, we and our children would still be slaves.

The Komsomol Haggadah, however, provides another answer. It explains the appearance of the ancient holiday of spring and how it was transformed into Passover for the benefit of priests and, later, rabbis. It introduces historical and ethnographical “facts” to show that a similar festival existed among some “Arab tribes” and that the custom emerged entirely because of illiteracy. It provides “logical” explanations for every detail of the story. Thus the fire on Mount Sinai is not a reflection of the divine appearance but rather an eruption of an old volcano; the matzo are flat because this is a traditional spring bread; the exodus is the wandering of a nomadic tribe; and so on. The final exclamation of the seder, “Next year in Jerusalem,” symbolizing the connection of the Jewish people to the Promised Land and the hope that the Messiah will come, is substituted by “This year a revolution here; next year—a world revolution!” The Komsomol Haggadah argues that Passover is not a celebration of real freedom but rather of spiritual slavery, because the holiday comes only from heaven. In contrast, genuine freedom is in the hands of the proletariat, and therefore one must celebrate May Day.

According to the Komsomol Haggadah, Passover deals with only Jewish matters whereas May Day is an international holiday meaningful to all. Therefore Altshuler also internationalized the Haggadah:

Instead of the story of how the sea was divided, we speak about the brave heroes of the Red Army near Perekop. Instead of the groaning of the Jews in Egypt and God’s miracles, we speak about the real sufferings of the proletariat and peasants in their resistance against their exploiters and their heroic struggle.

The final part of the Komsomol Haggadah instructs followers to cast away “the mold of generations”—the clergy and nationalist festivals—and praise the revolution and workers’ holidays.  In later years additional variations of the Red Haggadah appeared as supplements to the Moscow Yiddish monthly Der apikoyres. They are predominantly in verse form and stray further from the traditional version than Altshuler’s rendition. The Red Haggadah of the 1930s consists of new stories of the Exodus connected with Soviet reality, which were to be accompanied by the singing of the Internationale and the eating of bread (strictly forbidden during Passover). Some traditional motifs, however, are retained, including the popular seder song “Dayenu” which recites all the benefits the Jews have received from God. After each verse the refrain says: “If You [God] had done only this for us, it would have been enough!” The Red seder presents this song as being sung by counterrevolutionaries. It explains, in popular form, the reasons for the interruption of the NEP campaign and shows that “capitalist elements” will survive if they are given the slightest opportunity:

Ven bolshevikes voltn kumen,

Un voltn gornit tsugenumen

Volt geven, az vey tsu undz gor . . . dayenu.

 

 Ven zey voltn yo genumen,

Nor zey voltn lozm handlen,

Voltn mir alts tsurik bakumen,

Un s’volt geven . . . dayenu.

 

 Bay dem umgliklekhn handl,

Ven s’volt nit geven keyn finotdiel,

Voltn mir fun zey gemakht a tel,

Un s’volt geven . . . dayenu!

 

If the Bolsheviks just came,

And did not take anything

It would be for us quite . . . enough.

Even if they took something,

But only let us trade,

We would get everything back

And this would be . . . enough.

 

We would trade unsuccessfully,

And if there were no financial [e.g., taxation] department,

We would do away with them,

And for us it would be . . . enough!

In the parody dishonest entrepreneurs criticized the Soviet regime, incidentally revealed the flaws in its economic system, and plotted its destruction. In this way the authors of the parody attempted to convey that opponents of the Soviet regime used religion and religious songs to mask their intentions. Thus religion and religious observance are subtly equaled with economic sabotage. Generally this is how religious songs are parodied in Soviet propaganda texts. Yet a notable exception is a version of the four questions in the same Haggadah in which a positive character transforms the four questions into an accusation: the son blames his father for observing the “dark” tradition and not struggling with the rabbis:

Kh’freg dikh tate, ma nishtane,

Bist oysvaksn gor gevorn

Host keyn deye un di meye

Iz oykh nit vi in yene yorn!

I ask you, father: “How does it differ?”

You are completely grown up,

But you don’t have any standing,

and your business is also not like it used to be.

Following his speech, the son does not wait for a response but begins telling the story of the Red Exodus. The action takes place in Soviet Russia. Those who are expelled are “evil,” whereas, ironically, the heroes are identified with the Egyptians, signifying that, during the Exodus, Jews did not deserve to stay in Egypt and were therefore discarded. The villains in this Haggadah are “Rabbi Denikin” and “Rabbi Kolchak,” who are attempting to ruin the lives of the proletariat. By equating White Army generals such as Denikin and Kolchak, who were known antisemites, with rabbis, the Red Haggadah tries to demonstrate that both groups are dangerous enemies.

Kolchak and Denikin continued to be represented as enemies in Soviet ideology many decades after the Red Haggadah and Red seders were discarded and forgotten. Yet the principles used in the construction of Red seders, such as across-the-board negation, played an important role in the formulation of Soviet propaganda messages.

Alternative seders were conducted through the mid-1930s. Gradually these activities moved to Jewish schools and aimed to attract children rather than to convince adults. New Soviet holidays such as May Day and the anniversary of the October Revolution finally replaced modified versions of Jewish holidays in the mid-1930s. Some families continued to celebrate the Passover seder, often in its modified form (without prayers), and although red seders disappeared from public memory, their message still lived in the minds of many of those who witnessed them.

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Koyrekh (The ritual of matsa and bitter herbs sandwich). The Red Army soldier eats a sandwich “made” of Yulii Martov (the former leader of the Menshevik movement), Raymond Poincar, and Neville Chamberlain. Illustration from the first edition of Hagadah far gloybers and apikorsim (Passover story for believers and atheists). Kharkov, 1923.

Most of the children knew how to celebrate Passover and did so every year; the families obtained American matzo and saw Passover as the only festival of Jewish national solidarity. The inhabitants liked the festival much more than May Day because during Passover they received gifts, the entire family gathered at home, and they ate delicious food. May Day, on the other hand, was a day full of boring meetings and lectures. Typical responses included: “My father was angry because he had to attend the official gatherings”; “My mother was angry, too, because Father was not at home”; “The children were not in a festive mood, especially since they did not fully understood why it was a holiday.”

Efim G. remembers a song of the Red seder conducted in his shtetl of Parichi:

Mi asapru, mi adabru,

Hey, hey, lomche dreydl,

Ver ken visn, ver ken tseyln

Vos dos eynts batayt, vos dos eynts batayt

 

Eyner iz Karl Marx, un Marx iz eyner,

Un mer nit keyner.

. . .

Vos dos tsvey batayt, vos dos tsvey batayt

Tsvey iz Lenin-Trotsky

Un eyner iz der Karl Marx,

Un Marx iz eyner, un mer nit keyner.

. . .

Vos dos dray batayt, vos dos dray batayt

Dray iz internatsional, tsvey iz Lenin Trotsky,

Eynts iz Karl Marx, un Marx iz keyner, un mer nit keyner.

 

Who will tell me, who will say

Hey, hey, turn the dreidel

Who can know, who can count

What does one mean, what does one mean?

 

One is Karl Marx, Marx is one

There is no one else.

. . .

What does two mean, what does two mean?

Two is Lenin-Trotsky

One is Karl Marx,

Marx is one, and there is no one else.

. . .

What does three mean, what does three mean?

Three means Internationals, two means Lenin-Trotsky,

One is Karl Marx, and there is not one more.

This song is a parody of a traditional Passover song. The original words say: “One is God, two are two scrolls of Torah, given to the Jews on the mount of Zion, and three are the number of the Jewish fathers [Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob].” Efim G. actually thought that this was a Soviet Jewish song. He did not know that this was an adaptation of a much older Jewish song until he came to the United States in 1989, where he was invited to a traditional Passover dinner.

The structure of this “Red Passover” song differs markedly from that of officially published antireligious songs. Official songs retain old melodies and commonly substitute religious themes with negative images, such as in the “Red Dayenu,” which portrays NEPmen, or capitalists, as enemies. Consequently songs adapted from religious sources were designed to satirize those people who were still observant (and who were also presumed to be anti-Soviet). Here, the content of the Soviet Passover “counting” song clearly reflects the popular, even subconscious understanding of Soviet ideology that replaced old sacred symbols with the new gods (positive images of Soviet leaders). In the 1920s this type of substitution occurred only in unpublished songs. The government did not want to “replace gods”; rather, it wanted to attack religion through the creation of negative associations. It was not until the mid-1930s that Stalin replaced God in many officially published Yiddish folksongs.

Despite the antireligious content of the Red seders, they were distinctly Jewish events, organized for Jews, by Jews, and, equally important, they were conducted in Yiddish. Even the building in which the event took place was frequently a former synagogue. Most Jews did not perceive these activities as anti-Jewish. They saw them as Soviet Jewish events, created for their entertainment, and also as traditional holidays. Even after the most successful Red seders, which were attended by large audiences, the majority would go home and celebrate traditional Passover seders. Furthermore, those who conducted the Red seder often hurried to conclude the event since their families were waiting for them at home to celebrate the traditional seder. This was described by participants at such events. Velvl K., for example, was one of the organizers of the Red seders:

While I was at the Yiddish teachers’ training college [tekhnikum], my fellow students and I were sent to the shtetlach in the Ukraine to help organize anti-Passover campaigns. We prepared long lectures and discussion meetings. Sometimes even khometz food (such as bread) was provided for distribution. Many people came to join us. People in the shtetlach liked to see us, educated young men and women, who came to their shtetlach from Kiev. They were extremely friendly. I remember that, by the second day after our arrival, each of us had several invitations to private Passover seders in different houses… We enjoyed the holiday just as everyone else did after the official part of the day was over


 

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More Stories about the Red Seder:

The children often did not see any contradiction between their religious upbringing at home and antireligious propaganda in school. They thought that the family followed certain rules, and society followed others. Ian D. further explains:

My family was traditional. My father used to go to the synagogue. She [my mother] kept a good kosher house. Everything was kosher at home. We lived a Soviet way of life [sovetish shteyger], but it was all kosher.

….

Sometimes children were forced to perform antireligious actions in school that were organized in the form of a game. Many respondents reported that the idea of Passover was connected with various unconventional activities. Samuil G., who took part in these events in a shtetl in the Ukraine, remembers:

As a child I loved Passover very much. I loved the kugel [baked pudding, as of potatoes or noodles] that my mother baked for the holiday. She made it in a very special way that I have never tasted since. I loved how everything went crazy in the house as we were changing dishes for Passover and my grandmother was cleaning the house ferociously. The atmosphere at the [Yiddish] school was different, too. Of course, we didn’t have the day off or anything like that. Still, we had many interesting activities taking place in school. First, older children, the komyugistn  [Komsomol members] would come to conduct some activities for us. They explained how religion oppressed the masses in other countries. We played many interesting games together. For example, on the first day of Passover, they would gather us together and give each of us ten pieces of bread. We were given the task of going to Jewish houses and throwing a piece into the window of ten different houses. The one who was the fastest would receive a prize. We enjoyed the game very much, especially when the old, angry women came out of their houses and ran after us screaming “Apikorsim!  ” [“Heretics!”]. We felt like heroes of the revolution and were very proud. But in the evening we would all go home and celebrate the traditional seder with all the necessary rituals.

Children were not the only ones who faced the complexities of this dual existence. Adults, too, had to make compromises between their traditional ways of life, modern changes in society, and, perhaps most important, their possible sources of income. Here is the testimony of a former Byelorussian resident, Efim G.:

My father could do any job. He was a jack-of-all-trades. He was a tailor, a barber, and a baker. After the revolution he became a professional atheist and the chairman of the working committee. Then he became a chairman of the shtetl council. My father had an especially good income during the time of Passover, when he worked as a zetser [matzo bakery assistant]. The fact that he was also a professional atheist didn’t prevent him from carrying out his job. It was a very good source of income because all our neighbors were believers. We didn’t even think there were any contradictions in this.

On a cultural level, Passover and May Day were viewed not as contradictory but as fulfilling different functions. Passover was a family holiday, with specific rituals and traditions that celebrated national freedom from slavery. May Day, similarly, signified deliverance from servitude but on a class level. Yurii B. asserts:

Passover was only for the Jews and it was celebrated at home, whereas May Day was celebrated at the club. There were people of different nationalities there. There were Ukrainian, Polish, and Czech villages around us, so inhabitants of these villages would come to the club to celebrate the holiday. The club was a cultural center for them, too. Because it was situated in a Jewish shtetl [Romanov], it united Jews with all other nations. May Day was the perfect opportunity to celebrate something together with other nationalities

The coexistence of Soviet and Jewish holidays created mutual influences on the rituals associated with these celebrations.

Another popular theme in anti-Passover propaganda concerned how the holiday allegedly fostered social and economic injustice. Many publications accused rabbis of organizing Passover rituals for personal financial gain. Various stories spoke of the covert techniques rabbis employed to approve food as kosher for Passover, including a “guarantee” that was purportedly based entirely on bribes. Further, ordinary believers are portrayed simply as victims who lose their money to the schemes of the religious elite, while atheists are portrayed as the wisest citizens of all. One story made the comparison explicit in the portrait it draws of two friends: the one who observes Passover is constantly in debt, and the other is a thrifty atheist, able to save enough money for his family to build a new house.

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Removing the bourgeois khometz, Komsomolishe Haggadah, 1922

Etya G. (b. 1920) took part in the staging of an oral newspaper when she was in school in the Ukrainian shtetl of Kopaigorod in 1928. She describes it as follows:

The most popular of the children’s activities in the club was the zhivaia gazeta  (living newspaper). Each child received his or her own lines to recite. We staged a living newspaper against religion. It was in Yiddish. I even remember the words . . . I remember we were fighting against Passover, against these Jewish religious ceremonies. We used to sing:

Vi ikh efn a Peysekhdik zekl,

Gefin ikh an apikoyres a brek.

When I open the Passover bag,

I find there a piece of a heretic.

Etya also remembers that Komsomol members in her shtetl used to throw pieces of bread into the Passover bags that children were given. These pieces of bread (which were forbidden to be eaten during Passover) were called “a piece of a heretic” (apikoyres a brek).

For example, during Passover living newspapers often criticized people who baked matzo and sold it to their neighbors. Such testimony, however, actually helped members of the audience find out where matzo was being baked and how to get it.

The mass production of Yiddish propaganda plays began in 1925 and reached its peak in 1931. During this period buffooneries (bufanades), typically short, one-act comedic plays with political undertones, became a popular genre that was used for propagandistic purposes. . .  Yiddish performances also attacked Judaism, Jewish political parties (especially Zionists), Trotsky, and kulaks. The plays often promoted policies of the Soviet regime that were directed toward Jews, such as the organization of agricultural settlements. Most of these performances were musicals, consisting of alterations of traditional Yiddish songs, rewritten so as to make them simple to learn and easy to remember.

Many parodies were based on the story of Passover. For example, Avrom Vevyorke (1887–1935) first published the play In midber  (In the desert) in 1925. This anti-Passover parody revolves around two competing groups of Jews. One group includes members of the Komsomol, and the other brings together their opponents, notably Zionists and Bundists. The head of the second group is Moses, who wants to lead them to Palestine. The Komsomol group, in an effort to convince other people to join them, offers to build a socialist state instead. The Komsomol members use various arguments and methods, including the sexual seduction of Moses by one of the Komsomol members. The play ends with a complete victory for the Komsomol. All the members of the second group repent and go on to build the Socialist Soviet country. Even Moses refuses to go to the “Arab land” and stays to help establish the new Communist state with his new Komsomol girlfriend.

The sharpest conflict of the play is in the area of international politics. The lyrics of the songs used in the performance often incorporate idiomatic Yiddish expressions combined with Soviet ideological messages. For example, the “villains” explain their agenda as follows:

 

Mir zaynen sheyne yidn,

Gehandlt in dem mark,

Ver a shoykhet, ver a rov,

 

Un ver a feter kark—

Firt undz Moyshe iber yamen

In Balfurs medine,

 

Vet men vayzn dort di tir,

Geyen mir keyn Khine,

Marsh, marsh, marsh!

Oy, Oy, Khine,

 

A goldene medine,

Chan Kay Shi un Chan Tsai Li

Tsienistn fun bestn min!

 

We are good Jews,

We were trading in the market place,

Some are ritual slaughterers, some are rabbis,

 

Some are just fat necks.

Moses leads us across the seas,

To Balfour’s country,

 

If they don’t let us in there,

We will go to China,

March, March, March!

Oy, Oy, China,

 

A golden land,

Chiang Kai Shek and Chiang Tsai Lee

Are the best Zionists!

The Yiddish expression sheyne yidn  (literally, “beautiful Jews”), which usually refers to “respectable Jews,” here applies to market traders, one of the least respected professions according to Soviet ideology. In the next two lines, “the rabbi” and “the butcher” are called “fat necks.” In Soviet jargon “fat” meant “bourgeois” or “capitalist,” that is, antisocialist. The Yiddish expression feter kark  (fat neck) also refers to an “insensitive person.” Therefore, by calling butchers and rabbis “fat necks,” the author of the play created a negative association with these professions and made them an object of satire. In the play Moses, an acknowledged Jewish leader, only assists market traders and “fat necks,” not the poor Jews in need of help. This implies that Moses is not a leader of all Jewish people but rather only the rich

The play In midber equated Chinese leaders (who were hostile to the Soviet government at the time) with Zionists, and suggested that both were equally harmful to the Jews. To summarize, Avrom Vevyorke’s creation effectively rejected Passover, ridiculed Jewish customs and social structure, and informed the audience about the latest trends in Soviet policies.

For example, Dovid Edelshtadt describes the rebellion of the Jews in Egypt as a social revolution:

In dem land fun piramidn

Geven a kenig beyz un shlekht.

Zaynen dort geven di yidn,

Zayne diner, zayne knekht.

 

In the land of pyramids

Was an angry and evil king.

The Jews were there,

As his servants and his slaves.

Later in this song the author draws parallels between the exodus of Jews from Egypt and social revolution. He describes a new Jewish rebellion that allows the Jews to build a free society. Even though the Soviets presented the story of Passover entirely differently, the song still was published many times during the Soviet period, perhaps because of its revolutionary spirit.

Zing zhe arbeter, freylekh lebedik,

Breyter makh di trit,

S’kumt a naye glik, s’kumt a naye lid,

Zing a frayhayt lid!

 Sing, worker, happily, merrily,

Make your step wider,

A new happiness is coming, a new song is coming,

Sing a freedom song!

All historical text on the Red Seders of Jewish Bolsheviks comes from Anna Shternshis, Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939

 

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