Touring Black-Jewish Boston

Boston –– This Friday, May 11, Black and Jews will walk together in historical, racial and social harmony.

Sponsored and underwritten by the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the First Walking/ Bus Tour of Black-Jewish Boston will commence at 8:00 AM at Grove Square’s Freedom House (14 Crawford St., Dorchester) with a free buffet breakfast. It is hoped that this will become an annual event.

Gail Snowden, President of Freedom House and Managing Director of FleetBoston Financials Community Banking Group, will preside along with Hubie Jones, Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Human Affairs at the University of Massachusetts and Dean Emeritus of the Boston University School of Social Work. Snowden, founded Roxbury’s Freedom House, Inc., in 1949 as a nonprofit center of human rights and advocacy for Boston’s African-American community: Jones’ son Harlan is its current Director. Prior to 1949, the Freedom House site was the original Hebrew College, now located in Brookline.

The American Jewish Congress counts 60,000 members among its ranks. Its mission is threefold:

To strengthen the basic principles of pluralism around the world, as the best defense against anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry;

To enhance the quality of American life by helping to ensure Jewish continuity and deepen ties between American and Israeli Jews; and To safeguard the welfare and security of Jews in the United States, in Israel, and throughout the world. From the American Jewish Congress’ Boston Chapter, Executive Director Larry Lowenthal, outgoing President Rick Mann and incoming President Michael Goldberg will moderate this event.

Led by Carolyn Crockett of the Boston historical tour group. My Town, the two-hour bus and walking tour will visit important historical sites of both communities, including the original Mishkan Tefila on Seaver St. and other artifacts of this once- Jewish neighborhood.

Lowenthal, who taught English Literature at Tel Aviv University for five years, has held his AJC post for 12. “The AJC founded the Black Jewish Economic Round Table 9 years ago,” he explains, “to bring the communities together in the grand tradition of our past alliance in a city which is often so divisive.”

Through its work with city groups such as Working Capital, Neighborhood Development Corporation and the Main streets Initiative, both African-Americans and Latinos have created and maintained productive and contributory enterprises.

Lowenthal, just back from the AJC Annual Meeting in Washington D.C>, participated, along with 1200 attendees, in a diverse and far-reaching program. Speakers included Chief Justice Sandra Day O’ Connor, National Security Advisor Condaleezza Rice, Mexican President Vincente Fow, German Foreign Minister Joshka Fischer, Shimon Peres and President Bush, as well as military experts and Stephen Flatow and Devorah Halb, parents of terrorism victims Alissa Flatow and Avi Halberstam.

The agenda aptly reflected AJC’s broad spectrum of foci and concerns: the Middle East situation, intermarriage and continuity, Muslim-Jewish dialogue, demographic changes, the combating of stereotyping and prejudice and, as the upcoming walk reflects, the fostering of positive inter-group relations.

Reservations can be made by calling 617/457-8700. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

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