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Category: Interviews »

Subject: Contemporary History »

Arnold Zable describes the Bund and SKIF, and post-Holocaust development of the Jewish community

Mara Moustafine and Arnold Zable.



Date Added:

15 April 2009


source not available


mov (Quicktime);

File size:

11.5 MB




There were divisions in the immediate post-war years, between those who arrived before the war and those who arrived after the war. In fact, (Herz) Bergner and (Pinchas) Goldhar write about this and with their critical eye, whilst on the one hand they see that those that came before the war, often welcomed the newcomers in the way that I already described, on the other hand sometimes they – they felt ill at ease with the newcomers because of their – they brought with them an extraordinary story and a trauma. And over the years I think this has changed a bit, I think there’s – as the distance has grown between the years of the Holocaust and now, this sort of division is no longer there, the community honours the Holocaust as something which is fundamental to 20th Century history that’s something that ripped their communities apart and they come together on it.
There’s also a counter- answer, I mean the 1980s and 1990s, you saw the influx of Russian Jews and when they came in they went immediately to Caulfield and St Kilda interestingly enough. And they went there, I guess in the way in which chain migration operates because that’s where the Jewish community was. And then they encountered new divisions. They were the newcomers, on –and again on the one hand there were people that welcomed them, because of that strong sense of looking out for your fellow Jew within the community, and I know that Kadima, for example, has been acting that role.
It’s one of the few places where they were able very soon to come and have their concerts and their gatherings but on the other hand, you speak to Russian Jews and they’ll often talk about their sense of being outsiders within a community and that they weren’t made as welcome as they thought they should be. So, you know, things are always in flux. And evolving and there’s no easy answer to a question like that.

The strength of Zionism within the Australian Jewish community in the establishment is very strong, to the point of being overwhelming and – and I think that the SKIF philosophy, the Bund philosophy is a – is a very important antidote and it’s interesting how in recent years the Bund and the SKIF have organised community events, one event is the concert in the park where every year there’s  a huge gathering of the Jewish community and a celebration of its culture through song and through performance –and I think it took something like the SKIF in this case the youth organisation, to do this, to see that – that the real story of our day to day lives, is a story of living here in Australia.
Not necessarily looking towards another place, but giving time also to expressing one’s own culture, here where we are. And there’s a philosophy there that’s called, doykate which in Yiddish – which, you know, is a fundamental of the Bund movement. And doykate means “being here.” It actually means “being here.” And so, that’s another division, it’s kind of a dynamic tension there that a group like the Bund have with the community.
With growing affluence, the community has changed again and they’ve moved across to more affluent areas and become more middle class and perhaps in a way, for me, for someone like me I think this applies to everything, lost maybe some of that dynamic drive and energy that comes from the sort of environment we lived in in the immediate post-war years.
End transcript