A courtroom of students

Blacks and Jews in Conversation, Inc. (NJBJC) is a nonprofit organization founded with the intention of promoting dialogue and understanding between ethnic groups. As an educational program  started in New York City, students at high school and college levels; as well as all memebrs of the public, are invited to participate in dialogue and spirited discussions.

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Posted by Shannon Taylor

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Blacks and Jews in Conversation

September 1995

Hot coffee, warm bagels and good fellowship were the earmarks of the inaugural breakfast meeting of Blacks and Jews in Conversation, held at the New York Supreme Court on September 11, 1995. The organization dedicated to promoting understanding between the two groups, was created in response to the hatred and violence in Crown Heights that took the life of Yankel Rosenbaum.

State Supreme Court Justice Jerome Hornblass, and Justice William Thompson, Judge of the Appellate Division, co-chaired the kick-off breakfast which was attended by a large group of enthusiastic founders and supporters of the organization. Justice Jacqueline Silbermann, Administrative Judge of the Civil Court, made the introductory remarks, reviewing the accomplishments of the group over the past year. Thanks were extended to Attorney Howard Davis for financing a trip to Howard University. Judges Thompson and Hornblass were commended for their efforts in traveling from campus to campus with their message of brotherhood. Essay contests, supervised by Judge Gloria M. Dabiri of the Family Court, were deemed very successful.

The twinning of Martin Luther King Jr. High School with Solomon Schechter School in three separate programs last spring resulted in a feeling of accomplishment for all involved. Justice Sondra Miller, Appellate Division Second Department, one of the founders of Blacks and Jews in Conversation, spoke enthusiastically of the plans for the coming year. She endorsed the idea that judges and lawyers should be great guides in opening lines of communication towards understanding. Others in attendance who work in support of that idea were Justice John Caro, the first and highest elected Hispanic Justice, Judge Juanita Bing-Newton, Administrative Judge of the Supreme Court.

Blacks and Jews In Conversation

By Daniel Hoffman, Associate Entertainment Editor

On Thursday, February 5, the Queens College Hillel and the Black Student Union co-sponsored an event honoring Black History month. The event which was held in Hillel, was titled "Blacks and Jews in Conversation." The discussion was led by Judge. Shannon Taylor, a Jewish judge, and Dr. Jeffery Ross of the Anti-Defamation League. The panel of speakers for the event were comprised of only Jews because Judge William Thompson, an African-American, was unfortunately unable to attend.

The discussion focused on the history of relations between Blacks and Jews in the United States and the current strain on those relations. Judge. Shannon Taylor, who commanded the floor for the bulk of the event, spoke at length on myths that are injurious to the association of Blacks and Jews. Some such myths are that Jews had kept Blacks out of Hollywood and the music industry, and that there were a disproportionate number of Jewish slave owners in the United States. Judge. Taylor cautioned against the power of these myths by saying that, "you do not make peace with the present by creating a past."

Although Judge. Taylor acknowledged a strain in the alliance of Blacks and Jews, he was optimistic about its future. He dismissed a comment by an audience member who felt that Jews had abandoned Blacks after having "made it in the country." He called that another dangerous myth and expressed his opinion of the sources of current tensions. He said that many American Jews have focused their support towards the emergence of Israel as a nation.

Judge. Taylor cautioned against the behaviors of both groups in times of crisis, saying that "when there is an incident people try and have a dialogue, but when things cool off, people go back to themselves." The event concluded with some cautionary figures for the Jewish Community who said that "the rate of intermarriage is as high as seventy percent in Seattle," a trend which he described as being the most dangerous one facing Jews in America.


Letters of Appreciation

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Throughout the years we've been honored by special speakers and partners in discussions. Here are some of their letters of appreciation.

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