At the age of nineteen, in 1902, Kazdan began his teaching career at a girls' school in his
hometown of Kherson, Ukraine. During the years immediately following the Great War, Kazdan
worked as the secretary of the Kultur–lige (Culture League), a Jewish secular socialist
organization devoted to the promotion of Yiddish literature, theater, and culture.
Kazdan showed a particular interest in the Yiddish school movement; he was one of the founders of
Shul un leben (School and Life), the first Yiddish pedagogical journal.
Continuing his interest in the secular education of Jews, especially working-class Jews, he moved
to Warsaw, Poland in 1920 where, during the following year, he helped found the Central Yiddish School
Organization (Di Tsentrale Yidishe Shul-Organizatsye) –
a network of secular, socialist Yiddish schools.
At its greatest extent, the network consisted
of more than two-hundred schools with a total student body of 24,000 people. The administrators of the system
developed curricula, chose or published textbooks, developed new Yiddish words and expressions to meet
the requirements of teaching science, mathematics, music, physical education, Yiddish literature,
Jewish history and culture, and Polish history, literature, and language.
The impetus behind this educational movement was to create both a sense of national awareness and a
secular and modern Jewish identity. This new identity would be founded on establishing Yiddish
national Jewish language and on the creation of modern Yiddish schools to promulgate this identity.
The idea of founding the modern Jewish identity on Hebrew and on the expectation of a return to Palestine
was considered a fantasy (until the Balfour Declaration of 1917).
During this period, Kazdan published curriculum guides as well as articles on educatioal theory. In the
1930's Kazdan was the Warsaw director of the Central Yiddish School Organization. In 1941, Kazdan arrived
on the shores of America, where he continued to write about Jewish schools and European labor movements.
In the mid-fifties he began teaching Yiddish language and literature at the Jewish Teachers Seminary
in New York.
To learn more about Khayim Shloyme Kazdan, the educational and Bundist movements he was so
involved with, read
the following linked articles in YIVO Encyclopedia:
Khayim Shloyme Kazdan
Central Yiddish Schoool Organization
There is also an article in Eastern European Jewish Affairs, volume 43, issue 3, 2013:
A Revolutionary language: Khayim Shloyme Kazdan's "international Yiddishism" and the language of the
Jewish Worker at
Taylor and Francis.