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Khayim Shloyme Kazdan, Vilna 1938

Khayim Shloyme Kazdan

Educator & Bundist

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 as the

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

Bund

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.


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