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January 10, 1992 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-01-10

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

T H

Sleepwalkers

day such as the NAACP.

Photo by Dan ie l Lipp itt

T

Norman Naimark:
"We don't have
that many shared
experiences."

24

FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 1992

a cent is spent toward
education.
There are Jews who say
their opinion of blacks isn't
based on skin color but on
economics. There is an often
expressed stereotype that
blacks might not have the
money a Jewish family has
to maintain a home in a
middle class neighborhood.
Beyond the economics,
though, is a real fear among
many Jews that blacks
bring to a neighborhood a
track record of drugs,
violence and blight.
Also, there are Jews who
resent blacks for failing to
recognize the role Jews
played not only in the civil
rights movement, but in
helping to create civil rights
organizations that exist to-

o community leaders,
relations between
blacks and Jews are
far from simple. Leaders
organize meetings over cof-
fee and cake, sponsor round-
table discussions and debate
major sticking points.
They have held inter-
racial seders, sung gospel
hymns together, organized
canned food drives, run
tutorial programs, sent
black teens to Israel and
Jewish teens to Senegal.
There are literally hun-
dreds of programs of black-
Jewish interaction across
the country.
Locally, several syn-
agogues have programs
aimed at creating a bridge
into the black community.
But, say some black and
Jewish leaders, dialogue
and coalition-building are
zero-sum games.
"In terms of black-Jewish
relations, it's a very small
thing," said Bill Nabers,
president of the Southern
Oakland County Chapter of
the NAACP. "So far, all we
have is just the beginn-
ings."
Among Jewish leaders,
dialogue is a crucial step,
albeit a difficult one.
"What we really need to
do is somehow find a way
for those relations to
trickle down," said Jeannie
Weiner, president of the
Jewish Community Coun-
cil.
Getting positive relations
to "trickle down" is one
prol;lem, it's not the only
one.
Dialogue participants,
both black and Jewish,
complain that arguments
frequently tend to repeat
themselves. Dialogue
leaders lose interest and
have to be replaced. Plus,
the participants are get-
ting older, grayer and less
optimistic about the future.
Frank Sklarsky, 35,
chairs an American Jewish
Committee black-Jewish
dialogue group. Since fall,
the group has yet to meet,
and its black co-chairman
quit, citing his inability to
bring in black participants.
Mr. Sklarsky said he is one
of the youngest members of
the group, and many older

participants come wanting
to discuss past, not future,
cooperation.
"I consider it a luxury
when we can get a group of
blacks to sit down and talk
with us," he said. "They
have an awfully full platter
— schools, the homeless

Even when it works, dia-
logue groups get hung up
on the same issues: why
does Israel support South
Africa? Why can't the
black community silence
black anti-Semites like
Louis Farrakhan?
"We should be realistic
about what will happen,"
said Leon Warshay, a pro-
fessor of sociology at
Wayne State University.
"Blacks, in the final analy-
sis, won't care much about
Israel."

They have held
interracial seders,
sung gospel hymns
together, organized
canned food
drives, run tutorial
programs, sent
black teens to
Israel and Jewish
teens to Senegal.

The graying of black-
Jewish dialogue — without
a younger generation to
take up the mantle — is a
phenomenon that may
have nothing to do with re-
lations between the two
groups. One Detroit black
said that blacks may not
want to rely on Jewish —
or any white — economic
support because of a sense
of racial pride.
"If you're 23, black and
from Detroit, you're going
to be bitter," said Ellen
Hill of Detroit. "You're go-
ing to say: 'I'm taking back
the city.' "
Ms. Hill, who went to
private, mostly white
suburban schools all her
life, added that Detroit
blacks resent suburban
whites, especially those
perceived as exploiters of
the city.
Younger blacks believe

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