Participants and instructors in a refresher course for Yiddish teachers at YIVO, Vilna, 1938. (Front row, left to right) Khayim Shloyme Kazdan, J. Shapiro, Max Weinreich, and Zelig Kalmanovitch. (YIVO)

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Kazdan, Khayim Shloyme

(1883–1979), Bundist, educator, and leader of the secular Yiddish school movement. Born in Kherson, Russia, Khayim Shloyme Kazdan received a traditional Jewish education and began his teaching career in 1902 at the professional school for girls in Kherson. In 1907, he wrote for the Yiddish press in Di hofnung, a short-lived legal daily of the Bund.

Between 1918 and 1920, Kazdan served as secretary of the influential Kiev-based Kultur-lige. Taking an active interest in the Yiddish school movement, he helped to establish Shul un lebn (School and Life) the first pedagogical journal in Yiddish. He moved to Warsaw in 1920, and maintained his active roles in the Yiddish school movement and the Bund. He was one of the principal leaders and founders of the Central Yiddish School Organization (TSYSHO), a network of secular–socialist Yiddish schools founded in June 1921 in Poland. Kazdan wrote for the TSYSHO press and published curriculum guides for secular Yiddish schools; among his contributions were the Program fun yidish-limed in der 7-klasiker folks-shul (Syllabus for the Study of Yiddish in the Seventh-Grade Folk School; 1925), Metodik fun yidisher shprakh (A Yiddish Language Curriculum; 1939), as well as many articles on educational theory and the secular Yiddish schools. In the 1930s, Kazdan served as director of TSYSHO in Warsaw.

Following the German–Soviet partition of Poland in 1939 and the outbreak of World War II, Kazdan settled in Vilna, now ceded to independent Lithuania. Along with some 150 other Yiddish teachers, Kazdan helped maintain TSYSHO schools and publishing activity until the Soviet annexation of Lithuania in spring 1940.

In 1941, Kazdan arrived in the United States, where he wrote prolifically about Jewish schools and labor movements in early twentieth-century Eastern Europe. Starting in 1955, he taught Yiddish language and literature at the Jewish Teachers Seminary in New York. Kazdan served as an editor and contributor to Geshikhte fun bund (History of the Bund; 1960–1972). His Di geshikhte fun yidishn shulvezn in umophengikn poyln (The History of the Jewish School Movement in Independent Poland; 1947) and Fun kheyder un “shkoles” biz tsisho (From Heder and Secular Schools to TSYSHO; 1956), are key works on the topic. Works that Kazdan edited include Lerer-yizker-bukh: Di umgekumene lerer fun Tsisho shuln in Poyln (Teacher Memorial Book: Teachers of TSYSHO schools in Poland Who Perished [in the Holocaust]; 1954), a memorial book about TSYSHO teachers who had been murdered during the Holocaust, and Medem-sanatorye-bukh (Medem Sanatorium Book; 1971), a collection of essays on the Medem Sanatorium, the celebrated convalescent home for children that the Bund established outside Warsaw in interwar Poland.

Suggested Reading

Hayyim Solomon Kazdan, Fun kheyder un shkoles biz TSISHO: Dos ruslendishe yidntum; In gerangl far shul, shprakh, kultur (Mexico City, 1956); “Kazdan, Khayim-Shloyme,” in Leksikon fun der nayer yidisher literatur, ed. Shemu’el Niger and Ya‘akov Shatski, vol. 8, cols. 36–38 (New York, 1981); Moshe Kligsberg, “Khayim-Shloyme Kazdan: A mentsh—a feldz,” Kultur un lebn 3 (May–June 1973): 14–16.

YIVO Archival Resources

RG 1193, Moshe Dluznowsky, Papers, 1930s-1970s; RG 1400, Bund Archives, Collection, ca. 1870-1992; RG 479, Benjamin Jacob Bialostotzky, Papers, ca. 1929-1963; RG 540, Yudel Mark, Papers, 1930s-1975; RG 672, Chaim Shloyme Kazdan, Papers, 1942-1975.