Black Separatists May Have More in Common with Jewish Outlook Than Integrationists

A prominent Washington rabbi told B’nai B’rith lay and professional leaders who are engaged in youth work throughout North America that the Jewish community “may have more in common with black separatists than with black integrationists.” Rabbi Stanley Rabinowitz of Adas Israel Congregation said “the integrated world that the integrationists seek does not exist…There is today a reaching toward ethnic brotherhood, a strengthening of group identity. The black revolution has made ethnic awareness legitimate and fashionable–and, this is one of the things the Negroes have done for the Jews.” The Negroes, Rabbi Rabinowitz said, now searching for the roots from which they stem, have stimulated a similar quest among the Jews. “Many of us had forgotten from whence we came–but now there’s a tremendous awakening among the Jewish people, a hunger to learn who we are. How else can you account for the popularity of Jewish novels, of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and the stories of Sholem Aletchem, and of Yiddish Chassidic music among young people?” The doctrine of the American “melting pot,” said Rabbi Rabinowitz, “which was supposed to transform everybody to an Anglo-Saxon, just didn’t work. It didn’t work for the blacks, and it didn’t work for the Jews, as we learned from sad experience. The very people who could muster sympathy for the Jew when he was a helpless victim had no patience for him when the Jew comes forth as a victor or as a citizen demanding, not pleading, for equality and justice.”

There have been three repudiations of the Jewish people in recent years, Rabbi Rabinowitz observed. “We have seen so-called liberal organizations, including some heavily supported by Jews, bleed for every cause except the cause of the Jewish people. We have endured the slander of some of our black would-be allies. Many of the books turned out by Negro scholars of recent vintage border on outright anti-Semitism. And we have noted the silence of the church in the face of Arab attacks on Israel. Many churchmen appear to be distressed by the emerging power of a Jewish state, and especially, of Israel’s unification of the Holy City of Jerusalem.” Rising ethnic consciousness, he added does not preclude Jewish dialogue with the black community and with other non-Jewish groups. “We must break through the encirclement of suspicion and hatred. Rabbi Rabinowitz, addressing a national planning conference devoted to “The Jewish Teenager of the 1970′s,” urged efforts to intensify programs of “total living Jewish experience” at summer camps, winter retreats and expansion of work and study tours of Israel. “Boredom, alienation and dropping out” he said, can only be offset by “something that provides youth with self-identity and purpose. In a sense, youth needs something to die for. For, unless there is something to die for, there is nothing to live for. We must turn out large numbers of Jewish youth patriots who will be involved in the struggles of the Jewish people.”

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