In the early 1980s, Federation adopted a new strategy for assisting the Jews of metropolitan New York. In a survey of the program, Joseph Langer, director of the program, explains that the
“Neighborhood Preservation Program reflects a significant departure from the traditional approaches to serving Jewish communal needs. Rather than allocating our dollars … by type of service, [Federation has] made a decision to allocate a substantial portion of resources on an explicitly geographical basis…and for non-traditional purposes.”
With the assumption that neighborhoods are the basic building block of vibrant Jewish communal life in the metropolitan area, the Federation provided aid, both technical and financial, to specific neighborhoods and Jewish Community Councils within those neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and the Bronx. The Federation worked proactively with “neighborhoods that are at risk of decline, yet are still basically healthy” to ensure that the Jewish population in that respective neighborhood would continue to thrive, commercially and communally.
Target neighborhoods, at the time, included: Co-op City (Bronx), Kingsbridge-Moshulu (Bronx), Pelham Parkway (Bronx), Bensonhurst (Brooklyn), Boro Park (Brooklyn), Canarsie-Starrett City (Brooklyn), Crown Heights (Brooklyn), Flatbush (Brooklyn), Kensington (Brooklyn), Williamsburg (Brooklyn), Lower East Side (Manhattan), Washington Heights-Inwood (Manhattan), Forest Hills-Kew Gardens-Rego Park (Queens), Flushing (Queens), Jackson Heights (Queens), and Far Rockaways (Queens).
The program was funded, in part, through the Project Renewal program that was part of the UJA-Federation Joint Campaign. The program’s funds were limited, but Langer’s survey contends that the Federation’s “contribution supplies seed money, enabling local communities to attract private investment and government funding that would not other have been forthcoming.”
One such relationship that developed between Federation and the local community happened in the Bronx with the Jewish Community Council of Pelham Parkway. In 1984, Federation and the Jewish Community Council of Pelham Parkway coordinated the “Bronx is Blooming” tours to showcase some of the program’s achievements in Pelham Parkway. Achievements that included new housing for the elderly at Beth Abraham Hospital, coordinating renovations and co-op conversions, assisting with the revitalization of the shopping district near Lydig Avenue and White Plains Road.
We are processing the files of Joseph Langer, Director of the Neighborhood Preservation Program and Project Renewal, and expect to receive another large shipment of materials related to Langer and the program later next week. Neighborhood Preservation Programs and their associated activities, including Federation’s own program, are not without controversy, but we aim to provide description and access to the archival material that document Federation’s efforts to re-invigorate specific neighborhoods in Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.
There was no mention of Staten Island neighborhoods in the folder titled “Neighborhood Preservation — Target Neighborhoods, 1982-1983”. If there is an inference to made based on the exclusion of Staten Island from the list of target neighborhoods, it is unclear what that inference might be.