Agudath Israel Appeals to Nixon to Intervene in Halting Queens Project

The Agudath Israel of America appealed to President Nixon today to intervene personally to halt construction of a controversial low income housing project in Forest Hills, Queens, to prevent that predominently Jewish neighborhood from becoming a “ghost town.” In a letter to Nixon, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, chairman of the Orthodox group, described the President as “the single person with the courage of conviction and the power” to stop the project.

The letter claimed that while the Forest Hills controversy is not “a specific Jewish problem,” it is “the Jewish community that stands to suffer most from the erosion of the area.” Rabbi Feinstein noted that “Jewish minority rights cannot be flagrantly and arbitrarily violated in the process of helping other minorities.” The Forest Hills project, three high rise apartment buildings with 840 units, was conceived by the city and is financed by the federal government as part of a scatter-site housing program to remove the poor from inner city ghettos.

The Agudath Israel statement said, “It will certainly not benefit our national goals if scatter-site low-income housing is built at the expense of destroying a well-knit Jewish community which has at great sacrifice built many cultural and educational institutions to serve its local needs. We dare not let the Forest Hills community have the same fate as many other communities which have become ghost towns.”

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