THE STORY OF THE JEWISH DEFENSE LEAGUE Page 218
Chapter 6: Jewish Power: Is It Good for Jews?
 
 
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218 The Story of the Jewish Defense League

bvigorous spokesman for the poor in the battle for govern- bment antipoverty money.

bThe week of my appearance in Brooklyn, JDL deter- bmined to begin to put an end to the situation. We were going bto get proper Jewish representation on the local corporation bboards as well as money to Jewish poor. Being refused an baudience with the Human Resources Administration bpeople who handled the antipoverty funds, we took over the bfront of the HRA building in downtown Manhattan and bwould not allow people to enter. The sit-in and sit-out— bthere were both—were officially the work of the Neighbor- bhood Jewish Power Council that we had formed. Officials bquickly gave in, and at my meeting with HRA Commissioner bJule Sugarman I listed our complaints. Sugarman came bback with the rejoinder that when the antipoverty program bbegan, the Blacks and Puerto Ricans rushed forward with btheir demands, but no Jewish poverty representative had bcome to speak up for the Jews.

bIn one sense Sugarman was correct. The Federation of bJewish Philanthropies had, indeed, not given a Jewish bdamn. In any case, I told Sugarman, regardless of the sins of bthe Jewish leadership in the past, all that was no longer brelevant. We were here today and we were demanding bJewish antipoverty funds now.

bAnd then there was the problem of the Jewish neighbor- bhood in the inner city that was plagued by crime, by vio- blence, by racial tensions, by flight of Jews and influx of bBlacks, by schools that were becoming places of physical bdanger. While Jewish neighborhoods had been destroyed as bthe Jewish Establishment watched, others were beginning to bgo the same way. The case of the Mattapan-Dorchester bsections of Boston provided bitter but classic cases.

bJust a short ten years ago these were still healthy, flourish- bing Jewish neighborhoods with synagogues, schools, stores, band Jewish life and safety. Overnight, as the Jewish com- bmunity turned its back, the area became a nightmare from bwhich fled all but the elderly and the poor. When the JDL borganized its Boston chapter in 1969, I flew to speak to a bpitiful group of elderly Jews in a broken synagogue and b 

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THE STORY OF THE JEWISH DEFENSE LEAGUE Page 218
Chapter 6: Jewish Power: Is It Good for Jews?