A freylekhn ershter mai khaveyrim!
As we celebrate May Day, we remember those that fought for the rights we benefit from today and the fight that early Bundistn played such a vital role in, in improving the lives of Jewish workers in Europe. We too must not forget those who still need someone to fight on their behalf.
Below is a translated excerpt from “May Day in Russia,” Justice, 9th May 1908, p.3, with which we can remember the hardship experienced by those who came before us, but also recognise that these problems are ongoing in our world.
"Chaveyrim, the First of May is the bridge between ourselves and the future. It is the mighty cable which connects us with the international proletariat. Let us meet the great holiday of the proletariat; not with the dangerous indifference of the defeated, but with the joy of the victory of tomorrow.
Chaveyrim, the Jewish proletariat is now living through a particularly heavy time, The great masses of the Jews have sunk to a level of dull despair; their blood, which has been spilt so profusely, has made them blind; the blows which have been dealt them so heavily have made them deaf; and they see not that the national and citizen rights of the Jewish people can but grow together with the growth of the forces of those who will fight for them. Indifference and despair have imprisoned as in an iron vice their spirit and political will; an unrighteous and unjust contempt for the struggle for liberty and for the heroes and martyrs of that struggle – such is the dominant feeling. By celebrating the First of May we will demonstrate that not dead is the great power which in the days of the self-sacrificing struggle fought for the rights and liberties of all the oppressed.
Chaveyrim, let there a general cessation of work on the day of the First of May wherever duly possible. Let the banner, pierced by many bullets, torn by much powder, but yet not taken by the enemy, inspire with enthusiasm and courage all those who are groaning under the treble load.
Chaveryrim, celebrate the First of day of May! Long live the First of May! Long live Socialism! Long live the fighting proletariat! Long live the Bund!"
The Central Committee of the Bund. April, 1908
Picture: Members of the Bund marching at a May Day demonstration in Warsaw. 1930s. Credit: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research