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Vozrozhdeniye

VOZROZHDENIYE

VOZROZHDENIYE (Rus. "Renaissance"), Jewish nationalist and socialist group in Russia between 1903 and 1905. It was also connected with groups of Russian Jewish students in Western Europe. Some of the former members of the "Ḥerut" group of Berlin (whose leader had been Nachman *Syrkin) were among the members and supporters of Vozrozhdeniye, e.g., M. *Silberfarb and Z. *Kalmanovitch; members of *Po'alei Zion and of similar orientation also took part, e.g., S. *Dobin, M. Levkovski, J. Novakovski, *Ben-Adir (A. Rosin), N. *Shtif, B. Friedland, P. *Dashewski, J. Bregman, and W. Fabrikant, and such personalities as M.B. *Ratner, Ch. *Zhitlowsky, and A. Mandelberg. At a meeting of Zionist-socialist students in Rovno (Passover, 1903), the initiative was taken for the convocation of the Vozrozhdeniye foundation conference in Kiev (Sukkot, 1903), which became its center. The detachment from political indifferentism, which had prevailed in Po'alei Zion (particularly within its Minsk trend) was shattered by the *Kishinev pogrom, the Jewish *self-defense movement, and the wave of political strikes and demonstrations which began to engulf Russia. Political activism against the czarist regime became predominant. Simultaneously, during and after the *Uganda controversy, the crisis in the Zionist concept of settling Ereẓ Israel encouraged territorialist trends.

In Vozrozhdeniye the divergence between the territorialist and the autonomist ideologies became apparent, and the autonomist trend gradually gained the upper hand. Its general theory was that the national factor in history would not disappear because it was immanent in human experience in every generation, and was of a progressive nature. Capitalism not only fails to bring about the erosion of national existence by cosmopolitan amalgamation but even enhances national separateness in human society. This process is nurtured, among others, by the democratization of life and by the social and cultural activization of the popular classes, who thus also develop their own natural national forms of existence and creativeness. This is also the background of the national liberation movements of oppressed peoples. National differences will not disappear in the future socialist system, but they will coexist in greater harmony. Within this conceptual framework, Vozrozhdeniye integrated its doctrine of Jewish national life and future. It rejected the pessimism of the Zionist "negation of the Exile." There were opportunities for revival under Diaspora conditions by positive initiatives in various spheres of life and culture: education, productivization, organization of social classes, and political-ideological trends of which the nation was composed. Above all, it claimed that it was possible to attain a recognized official status of the Jews in their countries of residence as part of the state in the form of a national-political autonomy, which would be headed by national Jewish assemblies or diets ("Sejms"). The ultimate territorial concentration of the Jews was an ideal and the final objective, which would be achieved in an undetermined time and place. However, there existed an immanent, organic relationship between the achievement of this final aim and the day-to-day "activity of the present" in its various forms. The Zionist objective – in fact, the territorialist one – would be achieved not as a result of negative factors or of catastrophic misfortune. It would be a gradual evolution of events reflecting the growth of vital and positive forces within the nation in the lands of its dispersion, after it had organized and consolidated itself in the framework of national-political autonomy. The Jewish labor movement should be based on three principles: socialism (as the final objective); revolutionary struggle against absolutism and the bureaucratic regime; and national autonomy (both as an end in itself and as a way for gaining territory for the Jewish people in the future). This ideological system was developed in the Russian organ of the group which bore its name. Numbers 1–2 were published abroad (also in Yiddish under the title Di Yidishe Frayhayt) at the beginning of 1904, and issue numbers 3–4 were published at the end of 1904; a third issue (St. Petersburg, 1905) contained a comprehensive essay by Ben-Adir on the "National Ideal and the National Movement." In December 1904 (January 1905), the *Zionist Socialist Workers' Party was founded with the participation of delegates of Vozrozhdeniye. However, because of their rejection of "Sejmism," Dobin, Novakovski and Levkovski resigned from the new party and remained active within Vozrozhdeniye. The second conference of Vozrozhdeniye was held in September 1905. It was attended also by the young Berl *Katznelson. The attempt to establish a joint party with the Ereẓ Israel-oriented Po'alei Zion was unsuccessful because of the issue of affiliation to the Zionist Organization. After the establishment of the Jewish Social Democratic Party *Po'alei Zion under the leadership of B. *Borochov the members of Vozrozhdeniye held the foundation conference of the Jewish Socialist Workers' Party (Sejmists) in Kiev (April, 1906), after which the group disbanded. The autonomism promoted by Vozrozhdeniye influenced not only Borochov's Po'alei Zion but also the Zionist Organization of Russia, as reflected in the *Helsingfors Program.

bibliography:

Ben-Adir, in: Sotsialistisher Teritoryalizm (1934), 17–51, 134–9; N. Shtif, ibid., 130–3; M.S. Silberfarb, ibid., 57–78; idem, Gezamlte Shriftn, 1 (1935), 5–50, 199–258; O. Janowsky, The Jews and Minority Rights, 1898–1919 (1933), index; B. Borochov, Ketavim, ed. by L. Levite and D. Ben-Naḥum, 1 (1955), 377–82, 560–7, index to notes; 2–3 (1958–66), indexes to notes; B. Katznelson, Ketavim, 5 (1947), 385.

[Moshe Mishkinsky]

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