A Roundtable Discussion on Black-Jewish Relations was held on Tuesday, June 25, at the New York State Attorney General Tish James’s Executive Office, joining black and Jewish clergy from New York City, Westchester, and Long Island for a timely discussion on Black Jewish relations.
During the course of the discussion, Rabbi Chanina Sperlin, Executive Vice President for Governmental Relations of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, spoke about the work that the Attorney General had done over the past 20 years ago.
He mentioned her first role as a liaison in the AG’s office, later as a Council Member representing Crown Heights and most recently as Public Advocate, where she spoke out forcefully against any act of vandalism or violence against members of the Jewish community and always was a leader for bringing people together.
David Harris spoke of the crucial role that Jewish leaders played in the struggle for equal rights for Black Americans, and called for teaching that history to young people of all races who may not have that memory.
Several of the Black leaders echoed those comments and called for new relationships to be drawn between Black and Jewish leaders.
Rabbi Eli Cohen, Executive Director of the CHJCC, spoke of the work that has been done in Crown Heights to bring the community together and the way that African American, Caribbean American and Jewish leaders have worked to address hatred and bigotry in the community as well as address community-wide problems such as violence on the streets and gun violence.
Rabbi Cohen also related that he and District Leader Geoffrey Davis had held conversations with children in half a dozen public schools in Crown Heights in an attempt to understand what had motivated a recent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in the community.
Several clergy members present spoke highly of the work in Crown Heights and expressed a desire to bring it to their communities.