Over 1,000 Jewish Merchants, Property-owners Suffered Losses in Washington
Menu JTA Search

Over 1,000 Jewish Merchants, Property-owners Suffered Losses in Washington

Download PDF for this date

More than 1,000 Jewish merchants and property-owners were victims of the race riots in the District of Columbia area last week. Between 1,000 and 1,200 who suffered losses turned up at an emergency pre-Passover meeting called by the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington to aid the Jewish victims of the rioting although only about 200 had been expected. Information collected at the meeting disclosed that some of the merchants had been left destitute. A few were given temporary, emergency aid by the Jewish Social Service Agency and the Hebrew Free Loan Society so that they could celebrate Passover.

The throng heckled and booed a merchant whose neighborhood department stores had suffered massive damage but who appealed for compassion for the Negroes. Mortimer Lebowitz, active In Urban League affairs for many years and among the first in Washington to employ Negroes in executive positions, begged his fellow-victims not to “generalize” in blaming all Negroes. “We are at a turning point in history,” Mr. Lebowitz told the angry crowd. ” Social and economic changes are occurring rapidly.” He pleaded for tolerance pointing out that “I have always identified the problems of the Negro with the problems of the Jew.”

Representatives of agencies and institutions present at the meeting arranged for assistance to those urgently needing it. Among those present by arrangement of the Community Council were officials of insurance companies, the U.S. Land Redevelopment Agency, the U.S. Small Business Administration and others. The riot victims were advised how to get loans, file claims and otherwise seek to re establish themselves or close out their ruined enterprises.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund