Charge That Jews ‘escape’ Non-white City Neighbors Held Unwarranted

Dr. Albert I. Gordon, prominent Boston rabbi and sociologist today took sharp issue with charges that Jews were moving to the suburbs to “escape” their non-white city neighbors. The author of the sociological study “Jews in Suburbia,” addressed the 46th annual meeting of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, now taking place here.

“Far more important” changing social and economic factors account for the move to the suburbs of both Jews and Christians, Dr. Gordon said. He predicted, however, that the “escapists” among those moving out of the cities will find within the next decade that “there are fewer places to which to run.” Dr. Gordon spoke in opposition to the criticism voiced last month at the General Assembly of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations by Marvin Braiterman, a Baltimore attorney.

Declaring that the “escapist” charge leveled against Jews is unwarranted, Rabbi Gondon said: “Although it is true that the move to suburbs may constitute escapism for some people, there are many other far more important reasons why Jews began moving to suburbs, not the least of which are the factors associated with the increasing number of marriages, larger families, changing housing needs, improved economic income, better transportation and the desire for improved status.”

He added that “it is proper, however, to advise the minority who ‘escape’ to the suburbs in order to avoid contact with non-whites that the invasion of erstwhile white neighborhoods by non-whites is only Just beginning.” The improvement in opportunities for non-whites to acquire better education, technical skills, better Jobs and higher status, “makes inevitable their desire for better housing and living conditions,” he asserted.

Dr. Gordon noted that there are some people, “Jews and non-Jews alike, who will attempt to run from it all for awhile.” He then predicted that within another decade there will be fewer places to which “escapists” can run. “What I have said,” he added, “with respect to non-whites applies equally to those who are seeking to flee from communities into which Jews are moving. We will all have to accept the basic fact that we hall have to come to terms with reality.”

Irving Ferman, executive vice-chairman of the President’s Committee on Government Contracts, addressing the ADL meeting, said that discrimination in employment is still the most basic and crucial problem faced by minority groups in the United States. He also urged volunteer agencies in the civil rights field to place “greater emphasis” on equality of opportunity in employment.

Voting, education and housing equality are “important to the dignity” of minority group members, Mr. Ferman said. “But the leaders of social minded groups should recognize the fact that the first responsibility of a family head, whether he belongs to a minority group or not, is to look out for the economic welfare of his family–to see that they get their bread and butter. It seems to me that equal if not greater emphasis should be placed by volunteer agencies in the civil rights field on equality of opportunity in employment for all minority group members.”

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