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Jewish Groups Take Steps to Aid Merchants Whose Stores Were Looted During the New York Blackout

July 25, 1977
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Aid to small merchants, many of them Jewish, whose businesses were destroyed by the looting during the July 13-14 blackout, is moving ahead here. The American Jewish Committee announced that Haskell Lazere, director of its New York City chapter, is being loaned to the City of New York to direct a special project for helping the merchants.

Lazare, a community relations expert and specialist in dealing with racial and ethnic tensions, will serve as a volunteer director of a program that will set up Neighborhood Business Assistance teams in 14 locations where the looting was the heaviest. He told a City Hall press conference last Friday that the program will try “to reach out to small merchants in the area in which they operate, and to expedite in every way possible their return to normal operations.”

Lazare said the 14 centers, which will begin tomorrow to operate for two weeks, will be staffed by volunteer lawyers, accountants, insurance specialists and bank representatives “so that a small businessman will be able to get the assistance he heeds in one place at one time.”


At the same time, the Federation Employment and Guidance Service (FEGS), an agency of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of New York, announced a multi-faceted program to help the devastated store owners. FEGS said that merchants who will not be able to reopen even with loans from the federal Small Business Administration (SBA) will be offered a program of job development, job placement and career guidance in FEGS locations throughout the city.

FEGS is also exploring, together with the New York Urban Coalition, the possibility of a joint program using existing federal money for on-the-job training grants for employees of businesses that are able to reopen, in order to help employers meet the great financial demands for replacement of inventory and to repair shops and equipment.

FEGS is also exploring the possibility of federal aid for vocational training for employers who can not reopen their stores and employees who now find themselves without jobs because the stores are closed.

Meanwhile, the first person to receive a SBA disaster loon was a Brooklyn merchant who immigrated here six years ago from Israel. Mordechai Oved whose furniture and appliance store on Flatbush Avenue was wiped out by looters, was given a $50,000 loan, only three days after he had applied. Oved said he came to the U.S. because his youngest son, now seven, needed treatment for a respiratory illness.

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