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Graduate Students Studying Effects of Teachers’ Strike on N.Y. Jewish Attitudes

Two Yeshiva University graduate students are conducting a study of the effects of last fall’s New York City teachers’ strikes on the middle class Jewish community in certain sections of the city. James Statman, 25, and Robert A. Klein, 28, are working under a grant from the Society for Psychological Study of Social Issues to see whether “the Jews felt more Jewish, whether a strong Jewish cohesiveness developed” as a result of the prolonged school shutdown.

The strike involved the predominantly Negro Ocean Hill-Brownsville experimental school district and the United Federation of Teachers whose leadership and membership are largely Jewish. It generated bitter recriminations from both sides and resulted, according to many experts, in polarizing the Jewish and Negro communities and seriously damaging racial harmony in the city.

The two students, who are doctoral candidates in the social psychology program at Ferkauf Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences of Yeshiva University, are studying the attitudes of middle class Jews to see if they held to past beliefs, if some had become liberals or conservatives and whether they were now anti-union or pro-union.

In a related development, a community relations consultant of the American Jewish Committee, warned here that Jews must align themselves with moderate Negro leadership in order to dampen the effects of Black militants. Israel Laster, a specialist for ethnic and minority programs of the AJ Committee, spoke at Yeshiva University’s alumni mid-year conference. He said, “The absence of a continuing moderating effort on the civil rights effort could lead to a dangerous stalemate between the two communities so important to each other.” Mr. Laster warned that the burden of the moderating role will fall on Orthodox Jews because Conservative and Reform Jewry generally is not located in the urban ghettoes. “It is imperative for the Orthodox community to actively concern itself with the plight of the ghetto dweller,” he said.

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