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The Jewish Chicken Farmers of Petaluma: Why Remember?

Part One by Kenneth Kann   FIRST, ASTONISHMENT. Then outrage. Mine. I was viewing “California Dreaming,” a 2013 exhibit on Bay Area Jewish history at San Francisco’s eminent Contemporary Jewish Museum. The exhibit included the story of an extraordinary Jewish chicken ranching community in Petaluma, thirty-five miles north of San Francisco. This museum exhibit was false: […]

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The Master of Radio Drama

Norman Corwin, one of the most popular radio writers during the Golden Age of radio drama in the 1930s and ’40s, was born in Boston on this date in 1910. Corwin brought culture, historical consciousness, and progressive patriotism to the airwaves, with such radio plays as  Spoon River Anthology (1939), We Hold These Truths (1941), […]

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It’s a Wonderful Life

Lyricist, screenwriter, and playwright Jo Swerling, who wrote or co-authored dozens of Hollywood screenplays in the 1930s and ’40s, including It’s a Wonderful Life, Lifeboat, Pennies from Heaven, Platinum Blonde, and The Pride of the Yankees, was born in Berdichev, Ukraine on this date in 1897. He grew up on New York’s Lower East Side […]

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October 19: Fannie Hurst

Bestselling novelist and short story writer Fannie Hurst — known to later generations primarily through film adaptations of her fiction (notably Imitation of Life and Young at Heart), was born in Hamilton, Ohio on this date in 1885. Hurst wrote on social themes of sexism and women’s rights, racism and racial justice, and economic opportunity, […]

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October 10: Eddie Cantor

Eddie Cantor (Iskowitz), one of America’s first radio stars and wildly popular, cross-platform entertainers, died at 72 on this date in 1964. Known as “Banjo Eyes” and “The Apostle of Pep,” Cantor mixed intimate stories about his wife and five daughters with high-energy dancing, vaudeville songs, jokes, and sentimental sincerity to charm his audiences on […]

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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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July 12: The Screen Actors Guild

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) was founded on this date in 1933 with the aim of lessening the contractual power of Hollywood’s movie studios over the lives of actors. Jewdayo locates no Jews among the union’s founders, but it was Eddie Cantor who sparked the growth of membership from eighty to more than 4,000 when […]

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June 16: IBM and the Nazis

IBM was founded as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company in Endicott, New York on this date in 1911, as a merger of four business-machine companies. Renamed the International Business Machine Company in 1924, IBM as of 2012 was the second largest corporate workforce (435,000 worldwide) and the ninth most profitable. According to research by Edwin Black, author […]

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October 25: Father Coughlin

Charles Coughlin, a priest whose weekly anti-Semitic broadcasts had a radio listening audience of up to thirty million Americans during the 1930s, was born in Hamilton, Canada on this date in 1891. Based in a Royal Oak, Michigan church, the National Shrine of the Little Flower, Father Coughlin began his broadcasting career as a supporter […]

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