Commemorating the Fire

by Esther Cohen RUTH SERGEL is a deeply original visual and performance artist and filmmaker, the author of See You in the Streets: Art, Action, and Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, published last year by the University of Iowa Press. The book, she says, “is a chronicle of how I learned to be an […]

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February 5: Fighting for Low-Wage Workers

Beth Shulman, a vice-president of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and chair of the National Employment Law Project, died at 60 on this date in 2010. Shulman was the author of The Betrayal of Work: How Low-Wage Jobs Fail 30 Million Americans (2003) and a leading advocate for a new social contract […]

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In Memoriam: Henry Foner

by Bennett Muraskin HENRY FONER (March 23, 1919—January 11, 2017), the last of the four activist Foner brothers — all heroes to Jewish Currents readers and other progressives — has left us at age 97. His loss will be felt deeply by JC: He was the eldest member of the magazine’s Editorial Board and a […]

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January 31: Sweatshop-Free but Stained

Dov Charney, the founder of American Apparel, a trend-spotting clothing company that pioneered a “Made in the USA,” sweatshop-free model of manufacturing, was born in Montreal on this date in 1969. Charney founded his brand in 1991, paid his factory workers between $13 and $18 per hour, and offered them low-cost, full-family healthcare — benefits […]

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Celia Adler’s Advice to the Players

by Joel Schechter WHEN I DELIVER an introductory lecture on Yiddish theater at San Francisco State University, not all of the students in the class are Jewish, far from it; they come from a wide range of backgrounds and ethnicities. Once, after I finished discussing a few Yiddish actors and writers, a student asked me […]

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January 24: The “Immigration Pogrom”

More than 130 Jewish labor groups sent representatives to a New York protest meeting against the Johnson-Reed Act, which severely restricted immigration to the U.S. from Southern and Eastern Europe as well as Africa — and banned outright the entry of all Asians and Arabs — on this date in 1924. Fiorello LaGuardia branded the […]

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January 18: Curt Flood and Marvin Miller

Three-time All-Star baseball player Curt Flood (a .293 lifetime hitter in fifteen seasons), who reached out to Marvin Miller to sue Major League Baseball in 1969 in defiance of the “reserve clause” — a case that reached the Supreme Court and helped transform the status of professional baseball players — was born in Houston, Texas […]

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The Jewish Bund at Its Peak

by Diana Scott from the Autumn 2016 issue of Jewish Currents Discussed in this essay: Twenty Years with the Jewish Labor Bund: A Memoir of Interwar Poland, by Bernard Goldstein, translated and edited by Marvin Zuckerman. Purdue University Press, 2016, 345 pages. IF THE NAME Bernard Goldstein rings few bells today in discussions of Jewish […]

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November 20: Rose Pesotta, Champion Organizer

Rose Pesotta (Rakhel Peisoty), union organizer, anarchist, and the first female vice president of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union, was born in the Ukraine on this date in 1896. Pesotta emigrated to the U.S. in 1913 to avoid an arranged marriage and worked in a shirtwaist factory. She joined ILGWU Local 25 and led […]

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Jews Among the Wobblies

by Bennett Muraskin THE MOST RADICAL labor union in American history was the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), colloquially known as the Wobblies. Its active years were from 1905 to 1919, with some campaigns extending into the 1920s. Fierce government repression during and after World War I, along with vigilante violence and internal divisions, […]

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