Litwak, A.

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LITWAK, A. (pseudonym of Ḥayyim Yankel Helfand ; 1874–1932), popular publicist and propagandist of the *Bund. Born in Lithuania, he studied in yeshivot there. In 1894 he joined Social Democratic circles in Vilna, taking a leading part in the "Jargon Committees" for publishing and circulating popular educational and informational literature in Yiddish. Exiled to Siberia for revolutionary activities, on his return in 1904 he became active in the Bund in Vilna and Warsaw, and from 1910 a member of its central committee. A prolific and sharpedged writer and lively speaker, Litwak was warmly attached to Jewish folk culture and way of life, and became known as the "talmid ḥakham of the Bund." He was a leader of the "hard" group in the Bund which stood out for preserving its independence from the Russian Social Democratic Party in 1906, and later criticized the doctrine of national neutralism put forward by Vladimir *Medem. For two years Litwak stayed in Vienna, and in 1915 went to the United States. Returning to revolutionary Russia in July 1917 he became a leader of the anti-Bolshevist faction in the Bund, and after its split, a leader of the "Social Democratic" Bund. After trying to settle down in Poland, where he moved in 1921, he proceeded to the United States (1926). There he was active in the *Jewish Socialist Farband, edited its organ Veker, and promoted secular education in Yiddish. He met with difficulties in his attempts to associate himself with the American Jewish Labor Movement.


lnyl, 5 (1963), 83–90; B. Johnpoll, The Politics of Futility (1968), 134–5.

[Moshe Mishkinsky]