Posts Tagged ‘Fires’

Yiddish Workers’ Song

November 25, 2022

This is a real piece of forgotten Jewish working-class culture. I’ve put up a number of Socialist Jewish songs and anthems in Yiddish and Hebrew, including the Communist Internationale and the anthem of the Russian/Polish Bund. The Bund were the mass Jewish socialist party in Poland, fighting for the rights of Polish Jews who strongly rejected Zionism and wished to live in peace and equality in their native country with their gentile Polish compatriots. This song, Dem Arbeters Lid, ‘The Workers’ Song’, from Jane Peppler’s channel on YouTube, is characteristically Jewish but also strongly internationalist It says at one point that ‘race and nationality mean nothing to you’. It comes from the Jewish Labor Movement, which I would imagine is the American Jewish socialist movement, as shown by the thumbnail of a picket line of lady tailors on strike. It’s composer, Louis Gilrod, used as the tune the American song ‘The Mother of the Girl I Love’. It’s in Waltz time and reminds me very strongly of Edwardian British parlour songs.

It opens by describing the exhausted, penniless, ‘self-enslaved’ Jewish workers toiling as tailors. Their children are naked and their wives sick and weak. But they will bring about a new social order in which they will be free and there will be no rich and poor. These are sentiments that would no doubt leave the British Jewish Labour Movement, now a part of the Labour party, screaming in fury along with some of the other Blairites. Because somehow, some of them have got it into their tiny minds that socialism is anti-Semitic because it’s against capitalism. Presumably the Blairite moron who said this Radio 4 didn’t realise that by equating capitalism with Jewry she had just expressed the same views as Hitler and other grotty fascists, such as our own wretched Oswald Mosley. The picture of the squalor and poverty of the workers in the garment industry is absolutely accurate. Many, perhaps most of the Jewish immigrants to America were Yiddish-speaking Romanian fleeing persecution in that country. They were dirt poor, living in poorly furnished, overcrowded tenements, sometimes even just occupying stairwells. Many of the women were poorly paid workers in the garment industry. One of the most horrific disasters that hit the New York Jewish community in this period was a fire that broke out in one of the upper stories of one of the clothing factories. This resulted in tens, perhaps over a hundred dead. some of the women were killed because there were no adequate exits, and so leapt to their deaths. As for the myth of Jews sticking together against gentiles, the factories’ owners were also Jews who lived in the affluent districts uptown with their gentile neighbours.