“RavFrand” – Rabbi Frand on Parshas Miketz / Chanukah
The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same
In our own times we have witnessed the decline and fall of another ‘ism’ – Communism. Many people may not realize to what extent our fellow Jewish brethren originally embraced this `ism’. Jews played a prominent role in the beginnings of the Communist party.
Some Jews felt repressed and isolated by the life of the shtetl and were overwhelmed by the arrival of a new order that promised a better world. Many Jews, who had already left their faith, channeled their religious fervor into Communism. Some Communist leaders, such as Julius Martov (1873-1923) and Lev Davidovich Trotsky (1879-1940) were Jewish. For many years there was a Jewish division of the Communist party in Russia. It was not until the 1930s that Stalin came to power and ‘purged’ the Jews from the Communist party.
In fact, in our times, when most Russians admit to the bankruptcy of the Communist movement, many of them blame the Jews, saying, “they are the ones who gave us Communism”. In a sense, they are partially right. I am not even talking about Karl Marx (1818-1883), but in a sense ‘we’ made the Communist party.
In this century too, then, large numbers of Jewish brethren embraced another ‘ism’. The more things change, the more they stay the same.