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Conservative Rabbis Urged to Take Lead in Developing a New Black-jewish Coalition

May 16, 1984
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Conservative rabbis were urged today to assume a leadership role in developing a new Black-Jewish coalition to combat the social, educational and human problems confronting the nation.

Rabbi Arnold Goodman, president of the Rabbinical Assembly (RA), reminded the delegates attending the 84th annual convention of the RA at the Concord Hotel here that “we were in the forefront of working with Black leaders in the ’60’s, “recalling that in 1963, 22 members of the RA during the group’s annual convention flew to Birmingham, Alabama, to help Martin Luther King fight for equal rights.

“We must unite together as a strong force on the American scene,” Goodman declared, noting that Blacks and Jews comprise 15 percent of the voters in this country. He conceded that there were differences between the two groups but asserted, “Let us work on the things we can agree upon and talk openly and freely about our disagreements.”


Goodman pointed out, “Despite the rhetoric of Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan, there are great historical ties between Blacks and Jews. These must be strengthened so that together we can realize the full potential of American democracy.”

Jackson created a furor in the Jewish community with his references to Jews as “Hymies” and to New York City as “Hymietown.” Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, a Black Muslim organization, and a leading supporter of Jackson, warned Jews not to harm Jackson, threatened the life of Washington Post reporter Milton Coleman for disclosing Jackson’s remarks, and acclaimed Hitler as “a very great man.” Jackson said he does not agree with Farrakhan’s statements but has refused to disavow his support.

Goodman, in his address, admonished his colleagues for their “deafening silence” in failing to speak out as a body against the anti-Semitism that has been injected into the Presidential election campaign. He stressed that the RA should not engage in partisan politics but merely speak out on the issue.

Goodman also expressed disappointment with the other two Democratic Presidential hopefuls, Walter Mondale and Sen. Gary Hart for their failure to respond forcefully to the anti-Semitic remarks. “We must be quick in demanding that anti-Semitism be repudiated without reservation or equivocation,” Goodman declared. “We dare not be unconcerned or silent.”

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