Elderly Jews in Boston, Fearful over Mounting Crime, Invite in Defense League

Elderly Jewish residents in several parts of the Boston area, growing desperate over a mounting wave of crime in the streets which they believe to be directed primarily against Jews, have called on the controversial Jewish Defense League for help. Reports of violence against elderly Jews in Roxbury. Dorchester and Mattapan. prompted about 75 of them to meet last week with Rabbi Meir Kahane, director of the JDL, to discuss the formation of a chapter here.

Rabbi Mordecai Savitsky, a spokesman for the Boston Jews, said that assaults, robberies and beatings have become so frequent in some neighborhoods that elderly Jews are afraid to leave their homes and have stopped coming to the synagogue on Friday nights to pray. He said the situation has gotten worse in the past six or eight months. Victims have described their assailants as youths between 12 and 17 years of age. Rabbi Savitsky said it was obvious that the attacks “are definitely pointed against Jews” but he did not know if they were organized.

Rabbi Kahane, who is Orthodox and who claims that his organization has 7,000 members, was called to Boston to describe how the JDL works. The organization claims to protect Jewish life and property in racially tense, high crime areas of major cities, especially New York. It has been denounced by most major Jewish organizations as a vigilante group that does more harm than good. The Boston Jews plan to meet with Mayor Kevin White to seek more police protection. Rabbi Kahane told them that “if the Government and police can’t provide the safety that is desired, then it is up to Jewish organizations to provide it.”

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