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So far as black civil rights are concerned, most Jews behaved as liberals politically but as white people in their personal lives. Their experience reflects the dilemma of many white liberals in a nation where race has been inextricably tied not only to discrimination but therefore also to opportunity. To many, “white flight” connoted white racism. Yet for some who left, more than racism affected their decision. They recognized that black majority neighborhoods received fewer social services and generally had lower property values and poorer schools. Even if one endorsed civil rights, the reality of integration levied significant costs to those who remained. Liberal Jewish organizations studied the residential and business choices made by Jews as they pertained to integration. Examining a few studies in detail reveals some of the tensions between integration as political action and integration as lived experience in a quintessentially liberal white community.


Author's post-print. This version is provided in the Trinity College Digital Repository according to the publisher's distribution policies.

The published version is accessible at:

Liberal NIMBY: American Jews and Civil Rights.” Journal of Urban History 38, no. 3 (May 2012): 452-466.