WASHINGTON (Feb. 29)
A severe drop in the number of Jewish volunteers for community projects in Negro ghetto areas has occurred because of fear of violence, according to a report made today at a study conference of the National Council of Jewish Women. Summarizing the “consensus of thinking and feeling” at workshops held by 300 women from all parts of the country, Mrs. Herman Edlavitch, a member of the Washington subcommittee of the NCJW program, said “the predominant attitude alienating our white middle-class liberals and in turn our programs is fear–fear of going into distressed areas.”
More than a dozen local council units from various cities reported that they can no longer find Jewish volunteers to work in Negro areas. One city had to abandon a day-care program because of this. Another had 18 resignations because it was serving Negro areas where crime rates had risen. Another section reported that Women in Community Service (WICS), an interracial group, was “practically going down the drain” because of lack of volunteers.
Mrs. Edlavitch said that “while all agree we are walking on thin ice and have no blueprint to follow, we must refuse to be intimidated and find a way to work with and not for the Negro.” She said NCJW women are seeking help in changing their own attitudes, overcoming prejudices, and in re-evaluating their own work as volunteers in Negro neighborhoods. A tea tendered by Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House concluded the conference.