Morning Freiheit

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MORNING FREIHEIT

MORNING FREIHEIT (Morgn-Frayhayt – "Morning Freedom"), U.S. leftist Yiddish newspaper. In 1921, the U.S. group, the Jewish Socialist Federation (jsf), split from the Socialist Party. During the ferment of the Jewish labor movement at that time, the "independent" jsf was expelled from the building of the Jewish Daily Forward, located in the heart of Manhattan's Lower East Side; many of the federation's intellectual leaders worked as staff of the widely read Yiddish daily. The jsf, renamed the Jewish Federation, together with the just-formed Workers Party, founded the Frayhayt in April 1922 as a leftist daily afternoon newspaper. The Frayhayt, named for Germany's Independent Socialist Party's newspaper, initially tried to steer a "third course" between mainstream social democracy and proletarian communism. The Frayhayt managed for several years under the editorship of Moshe *Olgin to maintain high journalistic and linguistic standards and had a staff that included such first-rate writers as H. *Leivick, Moyshe-Leyb *Halpern, David *Ignatoff, Moses *Katz, and Moyshe *Nadir. In June 1927, the paper began appearing in the morning, from then on known as the Morgn-Frayhayt. As was the case with many Yiddish and radical newspapers of the day, the Frayhayt made available to a range of authors' works under the Farlag-Frayhayt imprint.

By the late 1920s, with the consolidation of different groups into what became known as the Communist Party, the Morgn-Frayhayt had become an unswerving Party organ, as was demonstrated by the reversal of its initial support of the yishuv (the Jewish community in Mandatory Palestine) to total support for the Arabs during the 1929 anti-Jewish riots. The paper's position alienated many of its readers and caused its circulation to slip sharply from its peak of 14,000. The Morgn-Frayhayt remained loyal to the Communist Party line through the Hitler-Stalin pact and the Cold War, undergoing a process of self-examination and eventual political and organizational independence beginning in late February 1956, with Nikita Khrushchev's de-Stalinization of the U.S.S.R. In 1967, the Morgn-Frayhayt supported Israel's right to defend itself during the Six-Day War, in direct opposition to the position of the Communist Party of the U.S. Two years later, the cpusa attacked the Morgn-Frayhayt and its English-language sister publication, Jewish Currents, for their increasingly independent position regarding Soviet intervention in Poland and Czechoslovakia, although the Morgn-Frayhayt had not yet openly broken with the Communist Party. The Morgn-Frayhayt's politics independently evolved to something akin to the "Eurocommunism" of the 1970s and 1980s. By 1970, the paper was appearing five times a week, with an estimated 8,000 circulation. Seven years later, it became a weekly, with an English-language supplement. The Morgn-Frayhayt folded in September 1988.

bibliography:

M. Epstein, Jew and Communism (1959); J.L. Teller, Strangers and Natives (1968); G. Estraikh, "Metamorphoses of Morgn-frayhayt," in: G. Estraikh and M. Krutikov (eds.), Yiddish and the Left; Papers of the Third Mendel Friedman International Conference on Yiddish (2001); D. Hacker, Jewish Currents – A History (n.d.); T. Michels, "Socialism with a Jewish Face: The Origins of the Yiddish-Speaking Communist Movement in the United States, 1907–1923," in: Yiddish and the Left; Papers of the Third Mendel Friedman International Conference on Yiddish, op. cit.

[Arieh Lebowitz (2nd ed.)]