Survival of Major Northeast Cities is Vital to U.S. Jewish Community
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Survival of Major Northeast Cities is Vital to U.S. Jewish Community

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The importance of the survival of the major cities of the Northeast to the American Jewish community was stressed today at the second annual Breakfast Conference on Social Concerns sponsored by Agudath Israel of America and its careers agency, Project COPE (Career Opportunities and Preparation for Employment).

More than 100 government officials, educators community leaders and representatives of social agencies attended the meeting at the New York Hilton entitled “A Conference on the Needs of the Middle Class Urban Family.”

Dr. Seymour Lachman, professor of history at the Bernard Baruch Graduate School of City University of New York and former president of the New York City Board of Education, and Richard Ravitch, chairman of the board of the New York State Urban Development Corporation, stressed the importance of the city to maintaining Jewish life as well as the ethnic values of other groups.

Ravitch, who is also president of the newly-formed Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, accused the federal government of fostering policies that undermined the middle class and its values, including the idea of social and economic betterment for the poor. He said while the poor must still receive the bulk of the aid the survival of New York City depends on a return to middle class values including ensuring physical safety and economic opportunity.


Irving Anker, chancellor of the Board of Education of New York City, also attacked the federal government specifically the Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare of deliberately bringing about segregation in the major cities of the United States in order to protect the suburbs.

Anker, who denounced a recent OCR report charging the New York City school system with discrimination against minorities and women, said the federal policy was creating all-Black school systems in the nation’s major cities. However, he noted that the bulk of Jewish children in New York City attend the public schools.


Herbert Bienstock, regional commissioner of the U.S. Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, said the bulk of the American Jewish population lives in the Northeast, the region that has experienced a large decline in jobs in the last several years while there has been a job growth in the rest of the country.

He said 50 percent of the Jewish population has had some college and college graduates are the ones finding it harder to get a job. Bienstock noted that the other half of the Jewish population does not go to college and praised Project COPE for helping these people. However, he predicted that in the 1980s the situation for employment would improve because of the low birth rate of the 1960s.

Rabbi Menachem Lubinsky, director of Project COPE, said the agency has dealt with some 5000 persons since it was founded in 1975, most of them people from the urban middle class who were experiencing poverty for the first time. COPE’s programs include on-the-job training, vocational education and classroom training.

Rabbi Morris Sherer, executive president of Agudath Israel of America, presented COPE’s 1976 New Horizons Award to J. Henry Smith, administrator of New York City’s Human Resources Administration.

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