Neighborhood security comes from several sources. It comes from the absence of crime, of course, and from good relations between neighbors and the police when problems do occur. And safety is strengthened when neighbors know each other and look out for each other. These last two components were emphasized at last week’s National Night Out, an event held in several Baltimore-area communities.
What began as a rally against crime 30 years ago still has a purpose. National Night Out informs residents about police programs in their communities and has evolved into an annual block party, where residents step off their porches, talk with one another and enjoy food off the grill, live music and parades.
The Jewish organization with the strongest involvement in the program is Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc. (CHAI), an agency of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore. CHAI focuses on maintaining stable communities with a large Jewish presence and is active in Community Conversations, a series of focus groups involving area Jews and African-Americans. The CHAI experience has shown that relations between the two groups are generally good but that there are cultural misunderstandings between blacks and Jews.
The beauty of National Night Out is that it brings members of both groups together, as neighbors in a positive atmosphere. By showing that everyone cares about their community, such gatherings can help reduce cultural misunderstandings and the suspicions that grow from them.
The crime rate in Baltimore is shockingly high. But even if it were zero, there would still be good reason for National Night Out to bring our communities together.
View photos from the event on the JT Facebook page, facebook.com/jewishtimes.