The Death of an American Jewish Community: A Tragedy of Good Intentions

Hillel Levine, Author, Lawrence Harmon, With Free Press $24.95 (370p) ISBN 978-0-02-913865-6
In a well-researched, instructive, controversial analysis, Levine, a rabbi and director of Judaic Studies at Boston University, and Harmon, former editor of Boston's Jewish Advocate , show how forces external to the black and Jewish communities of Boston undermined their relationship. At issue: blockbusting in the Roxbury-Dorchester-Mattapan sections of the city, where the mid-1960s population of 90,000 Jews has been reduced to 2500. At fault, according to the authors, are: badly administered federal programs underwriting mortgage loans with little or no down payment to minority low-income and welfare families; local redevelopment agencies; profiteering realtors; establishment Jewry who, the book charges, abandoned working-class coreligionists; plus the consortium comprising Boston Banks Urban Renewal (B-BURG), which secretly established a boundary within the Jewish section as the only area in which insured mortgages would be granted, and only to blacks. B-BURG'S ribbon-cutting took place in 1968, and within three months 314 loans were made. By 1974, however, 50% of B-BURG purchasers had lost their homes through either foreclosure or abandonment, and the area developed its present alarming crime rate. Levine and Harmon present stories of harrassment, panic selling and violence, while singling out neighborhood Jews and blacks who tried to make integration succeed. The book brings a scandal to the docket, naming culprits and arguing a case that needs to be addressed--and not only in Boston. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1992
Release date: 01/01/1992
Hardcover - 400 pages - 978-0-02-913866-3
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