Imagine that you are a Jew living in Poland right after World War I. Jews have been prohibited from running their own businesses. State-sponsored pogroms are making it difficult, if not dangerous, for you to leave your house. You can’t even be sure you’ll make it back alive if you go out to get some groceries. Now flash forward to 1969. You immigrated to America in the 1920’s. You raised a family in your Roxbury home, surrounded by other Jewish families. Your spouse is deceased and your children have moved across the country. Your peers have almost all moved to Brighton or Brookline, along with your synagogue. You are all alone. Suddenly, you cannot leave your home because you’ll be robbed and beaten by local teens. You cannot venture out to get groceries or pick up your mail without fear of a violent attack. Your situation is hopeless.
In the late 1960’s, Jewish elders in the Roxbury-Dorchester area of Boston found themselves in an unfortunate situation. The area had been a thriving, Jewish middle class neighborhood since the 1920’s. In the late 1940’s, Jewish families who had found their economic situations greatly improved due to post-war prosperity started to move west to places such as Brookline and Newton. This trend continued as socio-economic conditions further improved in the 1950’s and into the 1960’s.
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