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Communal Workers Parley Hears Plea for Creation of Urban Planning Council

June 11, 1968
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The creation in the United States of a new institution, a Jewish Urban Planning Council, to help meet urgent demands for social change in a period of urban crisis and racial conflict, was urged Monday by Bertram H. Gold, executive vice-president of the American Jewish Committee. He addressed the third general session of the National Conference of Jewish Communal Service here. Mr. Gold declared that there must be “a new Jewish communal look at the urban crisis in response to the dual sickness that plagues our nation – the sickness of the deteriorating city and the blind rage of an oppressed minority no longer content to live with poverty and prejudice.”

He examined four areas that he saw as subjects of deep concern: Black Power and separatism; Negro-Jewish relationships; conditions of Jews in Negro slum areas; and the role of Jewish communal agencies in the crisis of the cities, While he felt that some new programs by Jewish agencies in this field were “encouraging and useful,” he labeled them “only marginal and peripheral.” Mr. Gold warned that they would remain so until all Jewish agencies carefully re-examined their programs, their intake policies and service objectives. He called on experts to build new models of action programs and create new institutional forms “which must closely articulate a sense of mission and commitment to Jewish values and be a true expression and function of our Jewish tradition” in helping meet the great “social issues of these times.”

Mr. Gold listed five directions for charting future Jewish urban work: A concentrated educational program within the Jewish community that would deal with Jewish responsibilities in urban development; leadership in creating suburban coalitions – movements growing out of suburbia and recognizing the interdependence of cities and suburbia; active assistance in creating Negro federations and agencies to help correct the imbalance of the over-abundance of white institutions and the acute lack of Negro institutions; exertion of every effort in every way possible in instances where integration is possible; and development of comprehensive goals that would be large enough to unite and coalesce not only Jews and Negroes but also white non-urbanites with black urbanites.

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