Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner
Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner
February 2013
From Prof. Steven M. Cohen 


Dear Friends,

Over the decades, African-Americans have figured prominently in the imaginations, politics, and everyday lives of American Jews. The two groups share a common memory of slavery--one historical and the other Biblical. They shared experiences of social marginality and victimhood. These circumstances stimulated perceptions of similarity, mutuality, common values and common interests. Many Jews point with pride to claims of outsize contribution to the Black civil rights movement, even as they also tell the tale of subsequent distancing and rejection by African Americans. Some Jews draw parallels--challenged by historians such as the late Ben Halpern, Eric Goldstein, Cheryl Greenberg and others--between American racism and American antisemitism. To be sure, not all Jews drew such close parallels with African-Americans. In fact, Jews were often in conflict over the civil rights movement, within denominations and defense organizations, between North and South, and across political divides.

During much of the 20th century, many Jews and Blacks found themselves in the roles of employer and worker, be it in businesses or in private homes. In many urban neighborhoods, Blacks succeeded Jews, sometimes following disturbances and white (including Jewish) flight. In many formerly Jewish neighborhoods, Black residents interacted with local Jewish-owned small businesses, landlords, and school teachers--not always harmoniously. For almost a century, Jews and African-Americans have shared not only geographic space but political party as well. Both groups are stalwart supporters of the Democratic Party.


Apparently, just as inter-group marriage has increased between Jews and others, so too has marriage between white Jews and nonwhite groups, as reported in the recently conducted  Jewish Community Study of New York, where 12% of Jewish households include someone who is nonwhite, Hispanic, or biracial. As several publications in this month's Guide demonstrate, awareness of racial and ethnic diversity within American Jewry is growing.  


For all these reasons and more, Black History month (February) is an appropriate occasion to highlight BJPA holdings on African-Americans and their varied and evolving relationships with American Jews. These 95 documents, spanning nine decades and a variety of subject areas, are testimony to the many complex relationships between Jews and Blacks--real, fraught, and imagined.


Click here to download* the entire BJPA Special Reader's Guide: Black History Month.


Best wishes,Steven M. Cohen



Prof. Steven M. Cohen

Director, Berman Jewish Policy Archive @ NYU Wagner 



*Having trouble downloading the Guide from this email? Go to and click "Download publication."  

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Some of our latest additions:


Sh'ma February 2013: Multidimensional Judaism

Serving a Complex Israel: A report on Israel-based Immersive Jewish service-learning.
Repair the World, Rosov Consulting, Jan 2013

AVODAH Alumni Reflect and Respond: A Report of the 2012 Alumni Study.
Repair the World, AVODAH, Jan 2013

Intelligence Squared Debate: "Israel Can Live with a Nuclear Iran".
Jan 2013

Jewish Giving in Comparative Perspectives.
Noam Zion, Jan 2013

Ein Prat Evaluation 2011-12. Research Success Technologies, Aug 2012

Click here to browse our latest additions. 

JDBNew at North American Jewish Databank

A Tale of Four Cities 2012

Pocket Demographics 2012

 East Bay CA 2011

Jewish Map of the United States

The Jewish Vote 2012

Compendium of Comparisons

The Influence of Community Context and Individual Characteristics on Jewish Identity: A 21-Community Study

Jewish Population in the United States, 2011

World Jewish Population, 2010

2012 Jewish Values Survey  


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BJPA is funded by the Mandell L. and Madeleine H. Berman Foundation and the Charles H. Revson Foundation.