PALM SPRINGS, Calif. (Jan. 7)
Conservative and Reform rabbis were told by Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles that the message of hate and bigotry spread across the nation by the Rev. Louis Farrakhan has revived the Black-Jewish dialogue, reporting that in his city a two-day meeting was scheduled between 20 Black and Jewish clergymen and that some individual rabbis and ministers had again started regular discussions.
Bradley addressed a joint session of the Rabbinical Assembly Western States Region and the Pacific Association of Reform Rabbis last night at Temple Isaiah. Both groups are meeting at separate conventions here.
“We must never permit a message of hate to split us apart, we have so much in common historically,” Bradley said. He stated that rabbis have always been in the forefront of the civil rights struggle, saying, “This must continue and go further.”
REFUSES TO LINK JACKSON TO FARRAKHAN
Bradley refused to link the Rev. Jesse Jackson to the “vile tongue” of Farrakhan, saying that Jackson had apologized to the Jewish community at the Democratic National Convention for his remarks. “I am against any individual or group that supports and believes in bigotry, anti-Semitism or racial hatred no matter who says it,” he added.
Asked how the renewed Black-Jewish dialogue should handle the thorny question of affirmative action, Bradley replied, “I am aware of the strong reaction quota systems represent to members of the Jewish community. In Los Angeles, we sat together and developed a consensus to right historical inequities in achieving jobs without imposing hard, fast figures. We succeeded in developing goals and timetables acceptable to all.”
The national presidents of the Conservative and Reform rabbis, here to address their respective conventions, strongly supported national and local Black-Jewish exchanges and common efforts.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Rabbi Alexander Shapiro, president of the Rabbinical Assembly, said he felt that the renewed dialogue must first “overcome the existing hurt and suspicion within the Jewish community resulting from the bigotry of a Farrakhan, the slur of a Jackson, and the anti-Israel and pro-PLO posture of some members of the Black community.
“As spiritual leaders we must lead the way in helping to heal the wounds and returning Blacks and Jews to addressing the major issues, to a larger social agenda that demands our attention,” Shapiro added.
Rabbi Jack Stern, Jr., president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), said he believes that Jews and Blacks have a mutual obligation to creating better understanding within both groups and thus eliminating any existing vestiges of anti-Black bias and anti-Semitism that may exist. “These prejudices can be overcome with dialogue, understanding and face-to-face contact,” he said.