Benjamin and Regina Gordon moved to Teaneck in 1929, drawn by the Town’s excellent school system, proximity to NYC and the progressive Township’s reputation. They were introduced to the town by their business acquaintances Floyd Farrant and Charles Wolf, who built many of the homes in the area.
Ending Housing Discrimination
Benjamin Gordon received citations for his decades of dedication in Teaneck, to organizations such as the Teaneck Community Chest.
He also fought many battles here in Teaneck (and in the local surrounding area) against prejudice and injustice.
When the March 8, 1945 edition of the Bergen Record blazed with this headline on their front page, Ben Gordon took action.
The following day, the newspaper reported:
Ridgewood Bias Hit By Hebrews (March 9, 1945)
Mr. Gordon, an attorney, prepared a complaint that was filed before the Real Estate Commission of the State of New Jersey on behalf of the Bergen County Jewish Community Council against the 19 members of the Ridgewood Board of Realtors Inc., asking that the commission revoke their licenses.
On May 22, 1945, the Ridgewood Board of Realtors submitted a written request to the Bergen County Jewish Community Council, asking it to withdraw the complaint before the New Jersey Real Estate Commission for the following reasons:
The so-called old Ridgewood code against which you complained has been rescinded and is no longer in effect.
We are now operating under a new Code which was adopted on April 6, 1945, and which, in effect, provided that there shall be no discrimination against Jews or any other faith, creed or nationality merely as such.
You may be assured that members of your faith will be treated with dignity and be given the best advice of which we are capable.
The Code was rescinded, the complaint was withdrawn and Jewish families have resided in Ridgewood ever since.
Setting the Stage for Future Efforts Against Housing Discrimination
Two decades later, when blockbusting efforts and discriminatory policies against blacks and other minorities were challenged by the Gordons and others like them in Teaneck, groups relied on the hard-won accomplishments the Gordons like-minded fighters secured against such formal rules to enshrine discrimination in housing sales.
Zionism in Teaneck
Ben and Regina (Reitman) Gordon were also Teaneck’s first Zionists. As Joy Zacharia Appelbaum describes them:
Benjamin Gordon was a fighter of the first magnitude for the Jewish people. He fought with words and, when necessary, with his fists.
Long before World War II, the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel, this couple devoted their energies to numerous Zionist causes. Regina Gordon is a founder, charter member and past president of Teaneck’s Hadassah Chapter; a past president of the Northern New Jersey Region and a member of the National Hadassah Board. Both she and Ben Gordon were very active in the ZOA; he assisted Rabbi Israel Margolies in establishing the ZOA Chapter of Bergen County in 1943, and served as a ZOA national vice-president for many years. The Gordons attended Zionist Congresses both in Europe and Israel and served on the National Board of the Jewish National Fund. Admired for her many years of dedication and exemplary record of participation, Mrs. Gordon recalls the difficulties involved in raising funds for Palestine. “People were unaccustomed to giving and had to be educated. Collecting five dollars from one individual was considered an achievement.
Whether fighting for the Teaneck, Israel, or democracy itself, through efforts against the Bund and other groups advocating hatred, the Gordons were instrumental in laying the groundwork activists coming after them, have continued in earnest.