How Stalin Built and Buried Communism

by Mitchell Abidor   Discussed in this essay: Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, by Stephen Kotkin. Penguin Press, 2017, 1154 pages.   AT THE OPENING of Stephen Koptkin’s magisterial Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, the second volume of his biography of the Soviet leader and gravedigger of the revolution, Lenin has been dead for five years and Stalin, […]

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Singing Songs of Resistance

AN INTERVIEW WITH DAN KAUFMAN ON THE NEW ALBUM, FOR THOSE WHO CAME AFTER: SONGS OF RESISTANCE FROM THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR by Jacob L. Perl   JUST BEFORE ROSH HASHANAH in Madison, Wisconsin, someone spray-painted swastikas on a monument to the Wisconsin volunteers of of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion. The battalion was one of the international […]

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Splits in the Yiddish Socialist Movement

WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM THEIR HISTORY by Hershl Hartman Published in the Summer 2017 issue of Jewish Currents MY BOLSHEVIK MOTHER in 1929 named me Hirsh Naftoli — not after departed grandfathers or uncles, but after two assassins of the diverse Socialist movements in Eastern Europe. You may have heard of one or both of them: […]

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The Uncivil Servant: Jewish Radicalism, Worldwide

by Mitchell Abidor Discussed in this essay: Revolutionary Yiddishland, by Alain Brissat and Sylvie Klingberg. Verso Books, 2016, 304 pages, indexed. VERSO’S PRAISEWORTHY publication of Alain Brossat and Sylvie Klingberg’s engaging, well-informed, and at times moving Revolutionary Yiddishland comes to us thirty-three years after its initial publication in French, and seven years after its reprinting […]

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October 6: Editor of “Jewish Child”

Elma Ehrlich Levinger, the editor of Jewish Child magazine and author of more than thirty books for children about Jewish history and identity, was born in Chicago on this date in 1886. “Levinger used both drama and the short story as a means of educating young people and women about Jewish history and traditions, hoping […]

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Premature Anti-Fascism

LOOKING BACK AT THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR by Bennett Muraskin Published in the Summer 2016 issue of Jewish Currents Discussed in this essay: Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1938, by Adam Hochschild. Princeton University Press, 2016, 288 pages. FOR THE AMERICAN LEFT, the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939, was a noble […]

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May 23: Trying to Liberalize the Communist Party

John Gates (Solomon Regenstreif), a Communist journalist and activist who led an unsuccessful attempt to liberalize the American Communist Party (CPUSA) after Nikita Khrushchev took power and denounced Stalinism, died at 78 on this date in 1992. Gates was the son of candy-store owners in the Bronx and was employed by the WPA during the […]

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Muriel’s Gift

Rukeyser’s Poems on Jewish Themes by Helen Engelhardt From the Summer 2015 issue of Jewish Currents To be a Jew in the twentieth century Is to be offered a gift. SO BEGINS the most well-known and beloved of the poems written by Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), who was astonished when the Reform synagogue movement included it […]

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August 1: The Nazi Olympics

Adolf Hitler opened the XIth Olympiad in Berlin on this date in 1936, arriving amid musical fanfares directed by the famous composer Richard Strauss. By then, nazification of German sport had excluded Jews from sports facilities and associations. In the U.S., Jewish athletes and organizations were divided about whether to boycott the 1936 Olympics, but […]

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