Jews and Blacks in Philadelphia Meet to Find Ways of Helping Ghetto Poor

A local Jewish group has been meeting regularly since last November with Muhammed Kenyatta, Pennsylvania director of the Black Economic Development Conference, on cooperative ways to raise the economic standards of Negroes in the area. A series of project proposals involving Jewish financial aid and expertise which emerged from those meetings has been disclosed by Mr. Kenyatta. Plans call for a cooperatively owned chain of food stores, a cooperative apartment house and a cooperatively owned printing plant in which, Mr. Kenyatta said, members of the black community will share fully in the work and in the values which accrue from them. He said the “major ingredient needed for launching any of these efforts is money” and also skills which the movement hopes to draw from some members of the Jewish community. The Black Economic Development Conference made national headlines last year when its leader, James Forman, of Detroit, demanded $500 million in reparations from white churches of all denominations and synagogues.

Last Jan. 30 the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent, a local weekly, published a letter from Mr. Kenyatta in which he expressed the hope that a collaborative relationship could be developed between the BEDC and the Philadelphia Jewish community. He promised at the time that specific proposals would be forthcoming. Since Nov. 1969, he and other BEDC members have been meeting with an ad hoc committee of local Jews known as the Jewish Friends of BEDC. They have been providing information to the community and accepting funds. The membership, which includes several area rabbis, are acting as individuals and not as representatives of any organization or synagogue. A spokesman for the Jewish group said, “It is our hope that we and other members of our community can be effective in providing Kenyatta and the Pennsylvania BEDC with the necessary funds to launch an economic development project.”

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