Rabbi Urges Federal Action on ‘block-busting’; Cites Efforts on Jewish Areas

A Brooklyn rabbi called today for a Federal investigation of “block-busting” by real estate speculators in large American cities and for appropriate state and local legislation to combat the practice which, he said, was “polarizing blacks and whites into two enemy camps.”

According to Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht, executive vice president of the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education, an Orthodox group, “block-busting” has reached dangerous proportions in at least two sections of Brooklyn–East Flatbush and Crown Heights. Rabbi Hecht said he based his interviews with 513 said he bases his warning on the results of a two year study of those sections which included interviews with 513 present and former home-owners in an 80-block area. Crown Heights and East Flatbush are mixed neighborhoods, once predominantly Jewish, with large enclaves of Orthodox Jews. Italian-Americans comprise the second largest white ethnic group in the areas. Earlier this month a warning against “block-busting” tactics was voiced by Rabbi Zalman Gurary, a member of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, another Orthodox group. He charged that speculators had “deliberately installed tenants” in some housing “to harass and drive out the rest of the block.”

Rabbi Hecht called “blockbusting” a “major contributor to a city’s ills” and said it cost more annually than such crimes as mugging, auto theft and armed robbery. He urged householders to join forces against “blockbusting” realtors in target neighborhoods.”

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