Canadian Jewish Communists: New From McGill UP

Henry Felix Srebrnik’s Jerusalem on the Amur Birobidzhan and the Canadian Jewish Communist Movement, 1924-1951 looks interesting:

In 1928 the Soviet Union proposed the establishment of an autonomous socialist Jewish republic in the far eastern reaches of Russian territory. In Birobidzhan the eternal search for a Jewish homeland would be realized and Jews would possess their own institutions, which would function in Yiddish. A “new” Jew would be created, emancipated, and rejuvenated. Although the project was eventually revealed to be a fraud, thousands of left-wing Jews in Canada and the United States passionately supported it and campaigned on its behalf – some even emigrated to Birobidzhan.

The Canadian Jewish Communist movement, an influential ideological voice within the Canadian left, played a major role in the politics of Jewish communities in cities such as Montreal, Toronto, and Winnipeg, as well as many smaller centres, between the 1920s and the 1950s. Jerusalem on the Amur looks at the interlocking group of left-wing Jewish organizations that shared the political views of the Canadian Communist Party and were vocal proponents of policies perceived as beneficial to the Jewish working class. Focusing on the Association for Jewish Colonization in Russia, known by its transliterated acronym as the ICOR, and the Canadian Ambijan Committee, Henry Srebrnik uses Yiddish-language books, newspapers, pamphlets, and other materials to trace the ideological and material support provided by the Canadian Jewish Communist movement to Birobidzhan.

By providing the first account of the rise and fall of Communism in the Jewish community of Canada, Jerusalem on the Amur makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of twentieth-century Jewish life.

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