Rabbi Urges Black-jewish Unity

Martin Luther King Day today should be utilized by Jews and Blacks as a renewal of their old working coalition in New York City for improved housing, effective schools, increased job opportunities and sensitizing a state and city government towards the needs of its minority groups.

Rabbi Balfour Brickner, director of the New York Federation of Reform Synagogues, stated that there are a number of leaders in both communities ready and sufficiently “courageous” to establish old ties since they see this “continued isolation as being indeed suicidal and detrimental for the future of New York City.” The Federation is an affiliate of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, national body of 715 Reform synagogues in the U.S. and Canada.

Rabbi Brickner felt that New York City, once the most liberal, tolerant and open city in America, in recent years has become “a community of isolated withdrawn communities, characterized more by polarization and hate than by cooperation and understanding.” He called upon Black and Jewish businessmen, religious and secular leaders to establish “a working relationship as we once did for civil rights under Dr. King.” Rabbi Brickner indicated that he had already set up a number of such private meetings.

As a first step, he said, both groups must begin opposing those among the Black and Jewish communities still seeking “separatism and withdrawal” and to explore common working projects in local communities for both. “Let us begin to meet with one another in each and every discipline to establish the atmosphere where the new coalitions may be realistically and effectively created.” Rabbi Brickner stated.

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