NEW YORK (Feb. 2)
Applications are now being accepted from Black and Jewish college students to work as summer interns in Washington on issues of concern to both groups as part of a new Black-Jewish effort to promote human rights in the United States, an official of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations reported today.
Albert Vorspan, vice-president of the association of American Reform congregations, said the UAHC and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) had agreed to work together on such common concerns as joblessness, housing, equal educational opportunities, quality of urban life and crime.
Benjamin Hooks, NAACP executive director, said “we can no longer afford the divisiveness that has cropped up in recent years between Blacks and Jews.” Vorspan and Hooks described the joint program as an effort to revive “the 1960′s civil rights coalition adapted to current challenges of joblessness and urban blight.” To facilitate such joint efforts, Vorspan said, the UAHC and the NAACP had established the Kivie Kaplan Human Relations Institute, named for the Jewish leader who died in May 1975. He had been NAACP president from 1966 until his death.
To launch the Institute, the Kaplan family has provided an initial grant and other money has been raised by the two organizations. Vorspan estimated the money raised so far as totaling $20,000 and said “that’s a start.”
He said the Institute will seek to mobilize adult Blacks and Jews into “action squads” to create an awareness of problems and issues among members of their communities, to enlist their support on specific national issues and legislation that affect their common goals.
MANY TALKS PLANNED
Vorspan told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the effort to create the action squads will follow talks at the local level similar to those which have been held between national officers of the NAACP and the UAHC in San Francisco and New York City, which he said was the first in what was planned to be many such talks. He said “we are talking frankly” on issues on which there are “honest differences.” Vorspan said both organizations hoped that from such talks would emerge specific joint programs to cope with issues of common concern.
He emphasized that the Institute did not involve a new office and a new staff. He said each organization was setting up a desk to supervise its share of the planned joint programs. He said he was directing the desk at the UAHC and that Ed Muse, an NAACP official, was in charge of the project at that organization.
Vorspan said the intern program would be modeled on one now in existence, working out of the UAHC Religious Action Center in Washington, in which students learn the mechanics of government. He said they are paid a modest stipend. He said no target had been set for the number of interns planned for the UAHC-NAACP program because “we don’t want to be flooded with applications” before sufficient funds can be raised to finance the program.
Since the UAHC internship and the new joint program are aimed at college students, the joint program, as a practical matter, will probably not begin until summer. Noting that at present Blacks and Jews “have often opposed each other on divisive issues, permitting themselves to be swept along in angry confrontations,” Vorspan said that Blacks and Jews “continue to have much in common despite honest differences on various policy issues.”