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Synagogue Council Voices Concern over Conflict Between Jews and Negroes

Concern over deteriorating Negro-Jewish relations was expressed here by the Synagogue Council of America. Focus of its remarks was the New York teachers’ strike which has kept public schools closed since the beginning of September, except for a few days of classes. The strike stems from a conflict between the predominantly Jewish United Federation of Teachers and the mainly Negro and Puerto Rican Ocean Hill-Brownsville school district which is engaged in an experiment in school decentralization.

The New York situation has been aggravated by charges of anti-Semitism and counter charges of white backlash. The Synagogue Council of America, in a policy statement, condemned “irresponsible and reckless individuals” for “exploiting the tensions created by the (school) dispute to fan anti-Semitic and racial animosities.” The Council, national coordinating agency of the lay and rabbinical branches of Reform, Orthodox and Conservative Judaism, urged both sides in the strike to agree on a compromise. But It noted that the chance of compromise “is made virtually impossible by the excesses of a few irresponsible voices who have inflamed the situation by injecting racist and anti-Semitic aspersions. Racism and anti-Semitism must be condemned, no matter what their source.” the statement said. “Equally imperative is that responsible leadership on both sides not permit the uninformed and the reckless to obscure the real issues. To dismiss the legitimate goals of the teachers’ union as motivated by anti-Negro racism is as false and immoral as to distort the legitimate desires of the Ocean Hill-Brownsville local board as anti-white racism or anti-Semitism.”

A full page advertisement In the New York Times Monday accused the leadership of the teachers’ union of trying to attribute the anti-Semitism of a few extremists to the Ocean Hill-Brownsville school district. The advertisement was signed by some 400 teachers in the district, many of them Jewish.

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