United Jewish Socialist Workers’ party

United Jewish Socialist Workers’ party (Yiddish: Fareynikte yidishe sotsialistishe arbeter-partey) also referred to simply as Fareynikte (‘United’). A Jewish socialist political party founded in June 1917 as a result of a merger of two Jewish factions: the Zionist Socialist Workers’ party (SSRP) and the Jewish Socialist Workers’ party (SERP). Headquartered in Kyiv, Fareynikte published its daily newspaper Di Naye Tsayt there and its members actively contributed to the work of the Kultur Lige. The party was involved in negotiations with various other Jewish political groups in an attempt to establish a unified platform for the formation of a congress of Jews of the former Russian Empire, whose primary political goal would be the pursuit of the policies of national personal autonomy for the Jewish community. Fareynikte’s leadership, primarily based in Kyiv, anticipated that the city would become an epicenter of Jewish political activity. Witnessing Central Rada’s negotiations with the Russian Provisional Government concerning the issue of Ukrainian autonomy, Fareynikte’s leaders engaged in discussions with Ukrainian officials in order to advocate for Jewish autonomy within Ukraine. Moishe Zilberfarb, a prominent figure in the party, served as vice secretary for Jewish national affairs in the General Secretariat of the Central Rada, and later (in January 1918) he briefly acted as minister for Jewish affairs in the government of Ukrainian National Republic. Fareynikte also proposed a comprehensive plan for establishing extensive Jewish agricultural settlements in the southern provinces of the former Russian Empire.

As the Bolshevik government consolidated power in 1919, Fareynikte’s left wing gravitated toward amalgamation with the ruling Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik). This realignment culminated in the creation of the United Jewish Communist party at a key conference on 25 February 1919. Soon afterwards, this newly formed party initiated merger talks with the Communist Bund (Kombund), and by May 1919, this led to the establishment of the Jewish Communist Union (Komfarband) in Ukraine, which, by July 1919, declared its intention to join the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine. Although Fareynikte continued to exist for some time outside of Ukraine, namely, in Belarus and Poland, by June 1920, its remaining elements in Belarus had integrated into the local Komfarband.

Gitelman, Zvi Y. Jewish Nationality and Soviet Politics: The Jewish Sections of the CPSU, 1917–1930 (Princeton 1972)
Mintz, M. ‘The Secretariat of Internationality Affairs (Sekretariiat Mizhnatsional'nykh Sprav) of the Ukrainian General Secretariat (1917–1918)’. Harvard Ukrainian Studies 6, no. 1 (1982)
Pinkus, Benjamin. The Jews of the Soviet Union: The History of a National Minority (Cambridge 1988)
Estraikh, Gennady. In Harness: Yiddish Writers’ Romance with Communism (Syracuse, NY 2005)

Larysa Bilous

[This article was written in 2024.]

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