Barondess, Joseph

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BARONDESS, JOSEPH (1867–1928), U.S. labor and communal leader. Barondess was born in Kamenets-Podolsk, Ukraine. He immigrated to the U.S. in 1888, working in New York City as a cloakmaker. Soon after, he joined the United Hebrew Trades and became a labor organizer in the garment industry, helping to lead the first great cloakmakers' strike in 1890. Indicted in 1891 on an extortion charge brought against him by the cloak manufacturers, Barondess was sentenced to a 21-month prison term but was released in a few weeks, after widespread protests and petitions for his pardon. His career as an organizer ended when he led an unsuccessful strike in 1894, but he remained active in the Socialist Labor Party, joining its moderate wing in 1898 in the battle against Daniel *De Leon, which led to the founding of the Socialist Party in 1901. By then, however, Barondess had retired from socialist politics and was devoting himself largely to an insurance business that he had started. In his new role as a successful businessman, Barondess accepted appointment to the National Civic Foundation in 1900 and to the New York City Board of Education in 1910. Partly as a reaction to the Russian pogroms of 1903, Barondess became active in the Zionist movement and during the last years of his life served as an honorary vice president of the Zionist Organization of America. He was also among the founders of the American Jewish Congress and a member of the American-Jewish delegation to the Versailles peace talks in 1919. His career typified that of many immigrants, whose process of integration in the U.S. was marked by initial disillusionment with American society, socialism, a higher economic status, and finally a retreat from radical political activity and a return to the Jewish fold.


New York Times (June 20, 1928), 25; B. Weinstein, Di Yidishe Yunions in Amerike (1929), 116, 319–36.