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June 28, 1996 - Image 10

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1996-06-28

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

Today The Average
Person Spends...

Lending A Hand

Jews donate vast sums to rebuild black
churches charred by fire.

DAVID ZEMAN STAFF WRITER

SHANE YOUN G/AP

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180 MINUTES A WEEK EXERCISING 41P s

L I

2400 MINUTES A WEEK WORKING

Fires at predominantly black churches have devastated worshipers, like this
woman in Portland, Ore.

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n a display of unity unknown

since the civil-rights battles
of the 1960s, Jews in Detroit
and across the country are
joining forces with African-
Americans to raise money,
morale and volunteers for more
than three dozen predominant-
ly black churches destroyed or
damaged by fire.
In recent weeks, as the rate
of suspicious fires in Southern
and border states has acceler-
ated, donations and offers of
help have flooded the offices of
Jewish community groups.
While precise figures are im-
possible to track nationally:
• The Anti-Defamation
League of B'nai Brith has re-
ported nearly $100,000 in do-
nations since posting full-page
advertisements in several news-
papers two weeks ago. "Some-
times something ugly produces
something beautiful," remarked
Abraham Foxman, ADL's na-
tional director.
• Within a week after an-
nouncing its own fund-raising
efforts, the New York Board of
Rabbis received $30,000 in do-
nations and a pledge of $200,000
in matching funds, said Rabbi
Gilbert S. Rosenthal, the execu-
tive vice president.
• The American Jewish Con-
gress called upon Jews this
week to give money they would
have spent on food on the fast
day of Tisha B'Av to its own
church-building fund.
And in Detroit Monday, more
than a dozen Jewish civil and re-
ligious leaders joined black ac-
tivists and clergy at a summit
on the church burnings at the
Detroit Urban League.

The Jewish Community
Council said it too would raise
money for the churches and an-
nounced plans to deliver volun-
teers and donations personally.
Area rabbis, meanwhile, will ask
for contributions at services this
weekend.
At Temple Israel, a request
for donations in a monthly
newsletter produced more than
$5,000 in contributions in five
days. Dr. Nancy Gad-Harf, the
temple's director of planning,
said many members felt a spe-
cial obligation as Jews to re-
spond to the church fires.
"There's a real connection
made emotionally when some-
thing like this happens to the
African-American community,"
Dr. Gad-Harf said. "Having ex-
perienced discrimination as a
minority group in this country
and other places, we have a
sense of solidarity with anyone
hurt by these bombings.
"Perhaps we felt, in our com-
placency, that things were get-
ting better," she said. "But we're
learning that hatred and bigotry
is something that dies very
hard."
Since early last year, fires
have damaged or destroyed
nearly 40 black churches in the
United States, mostly in the
South. Seven have been ruled
accidental, with arson suspected
in the others. While investi-
gators have made about a
dozen arrests, they are unsure
how many of the blazes were
racially motivated.
The flames have rekindled
painful memories among Jews

LENDING page 12

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