The Crown Heights Jewish Community Council hosted an important meeting last week between Jewish and African American leaders in Crown Heights.
The meeting was designed to re-establish lines of communication within the community that had originally been set up in the aftermath of the 1991 riots.
At that time, an organization called Project Care was created jointly by leaders of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council and local Black leaders as a means of avoiding further tensions in the community.
Attending Monday’s meeting were Zaki Tamir, Fishel Brownstein, Chanina Sperlin, Eli Cohen, Rev Clarence Norman, Bob Mathews and Richard Green.
The meeting also included representatives of the Mayor’s office, the local Police Precinct, NYPD Community Relations Dept and Police Commissioner’s Office, the City-wide Jewish Community Relations Council and the Brooklyn DA.
In the course of the meeting CHJCC representatives sharply condemned a recent incident in which foreign visitors to the Jewish community apparently slapped one, and perhaps two, African American men on the streets of Crown Heights.
Although the Police investigation did not establish a racial motive in the attack, and alcohol was an apparent factor, many in the community feared that race might also have been a partial motive.
Richard Green expressed thanks to G-d that the incident had not developed into something more serious, but at the same time agreed with others in the room that it had served as a reminder that we should never sit back and wait for something to happen before reacting.
The police also asked the Jewish Community to make preparations in the future so that guests are made aware of appropriate behavior, whether it be observing traffic rules, consumption of alcohol, neighborly relations, or the dangers of leaving items in the shul that might be seen as a suspicious article.
The meeting concluded with an exchange of cell phone numbers and a commitment by all participants to keep their contacts alive and with the hope and prayer that community relations will be warm and without any uncomfortable incidents in the future.