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September 10, 1965 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1965-09-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Purely Commentary

Where Leadership Was Lacking: An Ignored 1923 Warning That
Might Have Solved Current Neighborhood Changing Problems

Dynamite-laden as the race issue isc its implications must not be
ignored. We would be blind to reality and we would be unfair to
posterity if we failed to take into account many of the issues that
emerge from the problems which have resulted in riots, which have
cost many lives, which continue to create divisive conditions in this
country.
One of the major and most disturbing aspects of the issue is the
developing condition of changes effected in neighborhoods. Instead
of encouraging integration, the merging of populations on a rational
basis, ghettoes have been perpetuated and created and we have experi-
enced flight from some areas of such a devastating nature that we are
now again experiencing panic.
It is an uncalled-for panic that could have been averted. It is
not only the law of the land that makes it possible for Negroes to live
among whites: it is primarily the law of justice and of fair play among
all elements in our population. But instead of creating an admixture
that would assure the acquisition of homes by all who seek improve-
ment, on an equitable basis, we have had the panicky fleeing from
areas where Negroes have settled. The result has been a constant
re-creation of ghettoes.
Ghettoes in themselves are not so tragic. It is the manner in which
ghettoes are created that should cause concern. Jews have lived in
ghettoes that were hemmed in, that were isolated from other communi-
ties and were walled in. They were the prison-type ghettoes in Euro-
pean countries. Then, when the ghetto walls were shattered by libera-
tion that was in the main self-liberation, Jews created their own types
of ghettoes wherever they went—because they wanted to be near their
synagogues and would not travel on a Sabbath or festival day; there-
fore they had to live within walking distance of the synagogue and they
thus perpetuated ghettoes that were really free areas of settlement. But
when Jews became affluent and moved into larger homes, either in
suburban sections or in exclusive residential territories, they were
usually in a group, mainly among Jewish neighbors. Has this, too, been
a type of ghetto? These were the rich ghettoes, but they were ghettoes
nevertheless.
But the Negro ghettoes have become objectionable because they
turned into Harlem- and Watts-type slums. That was where we sinned:
not to have provided proper, human housing for them.
The changing neighborhood problem is different. This is where the
unfortunate flight began. It could have been averted, and we have
proof of it in the form of a valuable 42-year-old document. Walter
Klein, the executive director of the Jewish Community Council, calls
our attention to the study that was made in Detroit in 1923 by Harry
Lurie. It was during the early stages of changes that were effected
in the Hastings Street area. Negroes lived in the proximity of Jewish
neighborhoods in the Hastings district, and there was amity among
them. But the problem really began at that time, as was indicated in
the study of the Detroit Jewish community and "the shifting of Jewish
districts" by Harry Lurie, who then wrote:
"Various influences have been at work in the development and
extension of those sections of the city in which Jews have congre-
gated. It is more or less inevitable that the growth of Detroit would
make necessary the exodus of the Jews living in close proximity to
the retail business, financial and warehouse districts, as these nat-
urally expanded in size. Those of longer residence in Detroit were
able to make the transition from the downtown section North to
Brush Street and from there to North Woodward as their former
homes became available for business, rooming house and apartment
property. But from the beginning of the growth and extension of the
Hastings Street district, other influences and problems arose. Al-
though the lower Hastings Street district expanded in size, and there
was a constant change of inhabitants as individuals becoming adjust-
ed in Detroit and improving their economic status moved to the new-
er Jewish sections of the city, the district as a whole remained,
through fresh accretions of population. Although from a housing
point of view this meant the maintenance as a residential district of
a rather undesirable section of the city; from the point of view of
community organizations and centers, such as synagogues, schools,
and recreational centers, it meant that these were located geogra-
phically to meet the needs of large portions of the Jewish population.
"But with the steady increase of the Negro population and their
pressure upon the Jewish districts for housing facilities, there began
about 1917 the gradual shifting of the Jewish population and the
gradual abandonment of the lower Hastings Street district. This has
created a serious problem for the Jewish community. Synagogues of
relatively recent construction, find that their membership has moved
away to remote parts of the city, and there are no Jews to take the
places left vacant by them. They are confronted with the problem of
following their members, the financial problem of a new building
and the diffcultiy of disposing of their present investment. The Jew-
ish Institute finds itself nearly isolated in the district predominantly
Negro. The United Jewish Charities report that they have twice as
many relief cases in the Oakland district, three miles distant, as in
the old Hastings Street district. The Labor Lyceum, to mention only
one other instance, planning ten years ago a center on Livingstone
Street, in hopes that in time the gradual drift of Jewish population
Northward would place it in the geographic center, finds itself in-
stead in the extreme Southern edge of the Jewish population. There
is hardly one of the Jewish organizations that does not face a like
condition.
"This situation creates considerable uncertainty for organized
Jewish activities. The recent expansion of the Joy Farm District in
the Northwest section of Detroit and its amazing growth within the
last year and a half, suggests that the shifting of Jewish population
has by no means reached a quiescent stage. Aside from the districts
in the Northwestern part of Detroit, which seem destined to increase
in population, most of the other centers of Jewish population are
facing an uncertain future. The lower end of Hastings, South of For-
est, is almost certain to be abandoned in the near future except by
families engaged in the retail business in that section and some
others who on account of lack of means, inertia, lack of ambition
or other reasons, will continue to dwell in a district growing steadily
more undesirable. The section North of Hastings, while facing a
greater degree of stability, is yet uncertain but that the pressure of
Negro population may ultimately make even larger inroads upon it,
than it has already done. There is no real security in the belief that

By Philip
Slomovitz

the higher price of dwellings in that section will act as a deterrent
to a change in population. It should be remembered that certain por-
tions of the Negro population are also improving their economic
status and with settlement already begun upon the streets running
North and South, the possibility of further settlement upon the cross
streets is not unlikely, if not for the present, then at some future
time. Even the Oakland section is not altogether immune from simi-
lar changes in the character of its population.
"The Jewish community, therefore, faces uncertain and imme-
diate problems. Perhaps the most important, from the social point
of view, is the remaining population left stranded and isolated in
districts becoming steadily more undesirable from a housing, hygienic
and moral point of view. There is small need to dilate upon the dan-
ger of juvenile delinquency, of family demoralization and of health,
not- to speak of more serious problems which such a situation will
inevitably entail. Secondly, there is the problem of centering new
institutions which the increased Jewish population of Detroit makes
necessary. Thirdly, there is the problem of moving established insti-
tutions to meet the needs of a shifting population.
"Will this unsettling and shifting of the Jewish population of
Detroit result in the creation of new neighborhoods or in a further
diffusion of population? Influences towards gregariousness will more
or less offset centrifugal forces tending to scatter the population and
prevent complete diffusion throughout the entire city. So also will the
existence of compact colonies of other racial groups. The newer sec-
tions of Jewish residence, however, will tend to be more diffused,
covering a wider territory with lesser density of Jewish population.
For example, residences of Jews - in the Northeast section of the
city will tend towards greater distribution than has been the rule
in previous districts. This indicates also a better degree of relation-
ship so far as neighborhood is 'concerned, between Jews of longer
period of residence in Detroit and non-Jews."
This augury of the future, had it been studied and properly evalu-
ated, might have solved the problems that resulted in the years that
followed—first in the Hastings Street district, then around Oakland
Avenue, followed by Twelfth Street, then in the Dexter section and
now in the northwest.
With wise planning in the early years, we might have had proper
and realistic integration. Now we have no integration and shabby
planning.
It has been said—and in a sense realistically—that there are
no integrated areas, that there are ghettoes, either black or white.
The earliest Hastings Street experiences refuted this view. But sub-
sequent developments actually led to a negation of integration,
in spite of all the proper and strong legislation. The flight to the
suburbs proves it. But vision towards the future in 1923 might
have assured continuation of the best relationships as they existed
in the East Side sections at that time.
We were warned in our Scriptures: "Where there is no vision, the
people perish" (Proverbs 28:18). There was a lack of vision in judging
the Lurie warning. It does not speak well for our leadership.
It is not to be implied that we are about to perish for lack of
vision. Perish the thought. But we must take into account the warnings
of the past: else we won't be able to benefit from life's experiences.
Perhaps it is not too late for us to learn that we do not fly from reality,
that we strive to improve and to perfect our neighborhoods as long
as they are livable, and that we make them livable for all Americans.
And in the process we must prevent the emergence of the type of
ghetto that inspires hate and destruction, looting and lawlessness.

Inhuman Acts Will Not Be Tolerated in Jewish Ranks

An intolerable occurrence in Ramla, Israel, brought the condemna-
tion of responsible Jewish officials, and Prime Minister Levi Eshkol
promptly condemned the attacks by young Jews on Arabs as "disgrace-
ful."
"Yet," the revealing account, "Rumble in Ramla," in Newsweek
magazine, states, "in many ways it was surprising that 17 years of
Israeli-Arab warring had not produced more such savage clashes. For
although Israel's 250,000 Arabs (10 per cent of the population) are
accorded equal rights with the nation's Jews, little effort has been
made to incorporate them into the mainstream of Israeli life—mainly
because, as one Jew put it: 'We don't really expect an Arab to be loyal
to us.' "
While there is a semblance of truth to this statement, the fact is
that schools and better housing are provided for Arabs in Israel, that
there is no unemployment among them, that they are the most affluent
among all Arab peoples anywhere on earth.
But the suspicion of a fifth column threat remains to torture all
Israelis, and the Newsweek article continues to state vis-a-vis such
fears of Arab threats:
"That feeling is most often found among Israel's young Oriental
Jews. The morning after the Ramla riots, one of the town's teen-agers
proudly told Newsweek's Richard Z. Chesnoff, 'You have to put them
in their places.' Another sneered: 'Maybe now they will keep their
hands off our girls.' But an old man, an Egyptian Jew, bared his grief:
`That Jews should do a thing like that! Haven't we learned anything
from 2,000 years of suffering?' "
Indeed, we have learned from historic experience, and only the few
"toughs," as the guilty youths of Ramla were described by Newsweek,
could possibly tolerate anything akin to what had occurred two weeks
ago. Jews as a people, and we are certain that nearly all Israelis share
this viewpoint with us, reject demonstrations like the one at Ramla
during which there was shouting of "Let's go Los Angeles." Just as we
abhor the latter, so, also, are we horrified by the Ramla happenings.
We have confidence that Israel's law-enforcing instruments will be
utilized to prevent a recurrence of the Ramla incident. And we are in
favor of letting it be known that Diaspora Jewry joins with responsible
Israelis. in branding the toughs' actions as inhuman and as un-Jewish.

*

*

*

Propaganda Disseminators at State Fair

Last week, the Allegheny County, Pa., Fair banned the distribu-
tion of Birch Society literature. A so-called American Public Opinion
Library had obtained space "under false pretenses," it was charged,
and the Fair Commission Chairman William McClelland ruled: 'Dis-
seminating propaganda is not the purpose of the county fair."
But at the Michigan State Fair here Birch Society propaganda
was distributed freely. While we have no way of knowing whether
the local propaganda dissemination was protested, we hope that the
Michigan State Fair Commission will be on guard against a repetition
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS of the practice next year.

,

2—Friday, September 10, 1965

The Hastings Street 1923
. Incident in
Experience .
Ramla Viciously Un-Jewish

Weekly Quiz

By RABBI SAMUEL J. FOX

(Copyright, 1965, JTA, Inc.)
is it true that Jewish tradi-

tion discourages the teaching of
Torah to girls?
The Talmud (Kiddushin 29 B.)
in commenting on the passage
"And teach them to your children
..." (Deuteronomy 11:19) says "to
your sons and not to your daugh-
ters." This has been interpreted by
some to indicate that Jewish tradi-
tion frowns on teaching daughters
Torah. This is, however, not q
the case. Another place in -
Talmud (Hagiga 3 A ) commentin
on the ancient custom, whereby
the King assembled the populace
to hear the Torah (Deuteronomy
21:12) points out that not only
men but women came as well to
learn. The Mishnah (N edarim
35:B) speaks of teaching the girls
Bible. Furthermore, a whole liter-
ature was developed in Yiddish,
especially for women in order to
give them a knowledge of the Bibli-
cal, Midrashic and liturgical writ-
ing. What actually may be the case
is that deep, concentrated, tech-
nical development of legalistic
subjects was left to the male popu-
lation while the girls and women,
who, although advised and re-
quired to study Jewish subjects,
were nevertheless excused from
the more detailed analysis. Cur-
rently it has been the opinion of
most educators that Torah educa-
tion for girls is for extreme im-
portance to the survival of Juda-
ism. While originally girls would
get this education from their
mothers, current conditions re-
quire formal education, especially
because of the widening breach of
communication between the gener-

ations.

Why is the letter "Shin"
placed on the Tefillin (philac-
tery) of the head?
Most of the requirements re-
garding Tefillin are considered to
be a basic tradition handed down
through Moses at Sinai. Some com-
ment that the "Shin" stands for
the name of God (Shaddai). This
particular name of God is the one
that is used on the Mezuzah which
is affixed to the doorpost of a
house. This particular name im-
plies that God is characterized by
"unlimited completeness"—the God
of nature—the real active partici-
pant in human life. He is thus not
to be regarded as a vague inactive
speculative concept, but as one
who directly relates himself to our
lives. Putting the "Shin" on the
head Telfillin thus reminds us that
God is with us and part of us, as
we are part of Him.

Orthodox Group Rejects
NCRAC Education Stand

NEW YORK (JTA)—The Union
of Orthodox Jewish Congregations
of America reaffirmed its supp
of the Federal Aid to Educat
Act, which benefits Hebrew
school pupils, and announced that
it had "dissociated itself from the
position recently taken by the Na-
tional Community Relations Advis-
ory Council in opposition to many
aspects of the Act."
In a statement issued by Moses
I. Feuerstein, national president
of the organization, the UOJCA
said that the NCRAC position on
the Act was a "hypersensitive" one
in which any possible benefits for
students of "non-public schools"
were considered to be an "intru-
sion into the sphere of religion,"
In a letter circulated by the
UOJCA to other affiliated and
constituent agencies of the NCRAC,
Feuerstein called upon these bodies

to "adopt a positive attitude" to-
ward the Federal Education Act

in spite of the position of the par-
ent body.
He urged the NCRAC affiliates to
"act within the limitations emerg-
ing from the position of the Or-
thodox Jewish community" which
generally supports the Act. The
Orthodox Union is an affiliate of
the National Community Relations
Advisory Council.

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