Founded in 1946, Jewish Currents is a magazine committed to the rich tradition of thought, activism, and culture of the Jewish left, and the left more broadly.
Jewish Currents began publishing in 1946 as Jewish Life, a monthly launched by the Morgen Freiheit Association within the orbit of the American Communist Party (CPUSA). The magazine’s major editorial concerns in its first decade included opposition to McCarthyism; advocacy for Black–Jewish solidarity in the anti-racist struggle; the promotion of Yiddish culture; and support for Israel’s founding from a non-Zionist, diaspora-oriented perspective.
In 1956, Jewish Life faced a severe crisis when Nikita Khrushchev’s secret speech denouncing Stalin’s crimes was reported in a left-wing Polish Yiddish newspaper, resulting in the evisceration of the Communist Party USA and the readership of the magazine. The magazine managed to survive, however, and, under editor Morris U. Schappes, began a slow evolution into a democratic socialist, secular Jewish publication. Renamed Jewish Currents in 1958, it was sustained in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s largely by Jewish drop-outs from the CPUSA and other allies. Now critical of the repression of Jews and Jewish culture in the USSR, Jewish Currents remained a voice for US–Soviet détente, Palestinian self-determination and statehood, and America’s civil rights movement. In 2005, the socialist organization the Workmen’s Circle briefly became the publisher of the previously Communist Currents—a merger that revitalized the magazine’s readership and marked a rapprochement between once rival factions on the Jewish left.
In 2018, the magazine was relaunched by a team of millennials, who redesigned the print quarterly and website and initiated a new era of outreach to readers, especially those among the resurgent progressive movement. Since then, Jewish Currents has found a broad audience online, publishing leading voices in the political and literary spheres.