Black-Jewish Relations: Do We Need To Talk?

Some worry that our communities have grown apart. Others say no news is good news.

Posted:
 
blackjewish400

In a piece for the Jewish Daily Forward today, Josh Nathan-Kazis worries that 20 years after the riots raged through Crown Heights in Brooklyn, N.Y., the state of black-Jewish relations seems to have disappeared as a concern today for African Americans and Jews alike.

Is it a sign that efforts at reconciliation after the riots were successful, or that the bond between the two groups is so insignificant that it has lost any relevance?

David Levering-Lewis, a history professor at New York University, told the Forward, "No news is good news on this score."

He's not alone in that view. "What's changed for us is the whole nature of diversity in New York," said Rabbi Robert Kaplan, lead intergroup relations official at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York. "In 1991 we thought about diversity as being blacks, some Latinos and some others." In this expansion of the melting pot, he says, the Jewish and black communities have become less critical.

But Nathan-Kazis notes that when candidate Barack Obama spoke about the black-Jewish alliance on the campaign trail in 2008, he talked about needing to "rebuild" it.

And Walter Strong, executive vice president of New Orleans HBCU, Dillard University, agrees. He's working to relaunch the school's black-Jewish relations program. "I do admit the fact that our communities have grown apart, as they have, but I do hope there can be a greater understanding, and I've begun to see some of that in certain areas," he said, adding that he's hopeful for "much greater opportunities to understand and have dialogue."

Whether the nature of the current relationship between the two groups (which seems to involve little conflict but just as little collaboration) is problematic is clearly up for debate. But if there's a conversation that needs to take place, consider it started.

Read more at the Jewish Daily Forward.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.   

Comments
The Root encourages respectful debate and dialogue in our commenting community. To improve the commenting experience for all our readers we will be experimenting with some new formats over the next few weeks. During this transition period the comments section will be unavailable to users.

We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your continued support of The Root.

While we are experimenting, please feel free to leave feedback below about your past experiences commenting at The Root.
Must-See Family Attractions
July 29 2014 2:13 PM