From Publishers Weekly
In a well-researched, instructive, controversial analysis, Levine, a rabbi and director of Judaic Studies at Boston University, and Harmon, former editor of Boston's Jewish Advocate , show how forces external to the black and Jewish communities of Boston undermined their relationship. At issue: blockbusting in the Roxbury-Dorchester-Mattapan sections of the city, where the mid-1960s population of 90,000 Jews has been reduced to 2500. At fault, according to the authors, are: badly administered federal programs underwriting mortgage loans with little or no down payment to minority low-income and welfare families; local redevelopment agencies; profiteering realtors; establishment Jewry who, the book charges, abandoned working-class coreligionists; plus the consortium comprising Boston Banks Urban Renewal (B-BURG), which secretly established a boundary within the Jewish section as the only area in which insured mortgages would be granted, and only to blacks. B-BURG'S ribbon-cutting took place in 1968, and within three months 314 loans were made. By 1974, however, 50% of B-BURG purchasers had lost their homes through either foreclosure or abandonment, and the area developed its present alarming crime rate. Levine and Harmon present stories of harrassment, panic selling and violence, while singling out neighborhood Jews and blacks who tried to make integration succeed. The book brings a scandal to the docket, naming culprits and arguing a case that needs to be addressed--and not only in Boston.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A metaphor for America's urban tragedy as told in the dramatic story of old Jewish Boston's swift and cruel demise. According to Levine (Sociology and Religion/Boston Univ.) and Harmon (ed., Brookline Citizen), idealistic advocates of racial integration and greedy real-estate kingpins conspired in the mid- 60's to target the Jewish inner-city enclaves of Mattapan, Dorchester, and Roxbury for a massive infusion of poor blacks. Working-class areas like ``Southie'' (the Irish neighborhood) and the North End (Boston's Italian stronghold), the authors say, were spared from the carrots of mortgage manna (e.g., banks conspiring to offer Dorchester mortgages easily, and only, to blacks) and the sticks of violent blockbusting techniques (including synagogue burnings) because it was known that these minorities would rather fight than take flight. Levine and Harmon are sympathetic to the goals of racial integration but are indignant over the brutality and unfairness that accompanied these orchestrations. Bankers and politicians are indicted here by elaborate court evidence and by supplementary research cited by the authors, who use their insiders' passion (Harmon was born and raised in Dorchester) and professional expertise to forever preserve the corned-beef flavor of old Blue Hill Avenue. As much an elegiac memory book of old Jewish Boston as a searing indictment against her killers. -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.