Murray Polner, the founding editor of the liberal Jewish magazine Present Tense who served as its
editor until it folded, died on May 30. He was 91.
Polner, who also authored or edited eight books, was a resident of Great Neck, N.Y.
Polner founded Present Tense in 1973 and remained its editor until the American Jewish Committee ended the publication of the magazine during a cost-cutting restructuring in 1990.
Present Tense was widely seen as an alternative to Commentary, the conservative magazine also published by the AJC. Polner later founded and ran a newsletter called “PS: The Intelligent Guide to Jewish Affairs,” in order to continue the same kind of work.
He was a pacifist, anti-war writer and activist, according to The Island Now blog, and often wrote magazine articles as well as letters to the editor about subjects of war and peace.
He served as book editor for the History News Network until May 2017, and was the editor of Fellowship
magazine, published by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, from 1991 to 1993.
He was until recently a regular contributor to the LA Progressive.
Polner also wrote a biography of Branch Rickey, the baseball executive who signed Jackie Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball, to Polner’s beloved Brooklyn Dodgers.He is survived by his wife of 68 years, Louise; a daughter, Beth Polner Abrahams; sons, Rob and Alex; and six grandchildren.
—JTA News and Features