Article - Ann. of theJoint
AMERICAN JEWISH JDC 70TH ANNIVERSARY
AMERICAN JEWISH JOINT DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee - "the Joint" as it is affectionately known around the world - was established on November 27, 1914, to aid Jews in Palestine and Eastern Europe trapped in the war zones of World War I.
It began with a cable sent in August 1914 to Jacob Schiff of New York by Henry Morgenthau Sr, ambassador of the United States to Turkey, appealing to American Jewry for $50,000 to aid the Jewish colonists in the Holy Land whose position had become desperate. The money was quickly raised and the JDC duly established.
From that day on, the JDC has served as the overseas philanthropic arm of the American Jewish community, providing life-saving and life-sustaining programs and services for Jewish communities in every corner of the world. The number of people aided runs into the millions, and there has been a JDC presence at one time or another in over 70 countries.
A single criterion has guided the JDC in its activities through the years - Jews in need should be helped and should be helped to live as Jews.
Assistance has taken many forms in accordance with the specific needs of the time and place. In the period following the Holocaust, the major need was first for basic relief, and then rehabilitation and education. In East European countries today, where there are many elderly and sick Holocaust survivors, the need is for life-maintaining programs, while in North Africa and Western Europe, with many young people, the emphasis is on Jewish education.
JDC activities in Israel have also been a dynamic, constantly changing force. With the creation of the State in 1948, the Joint helped Holocaust survivors enter Israel and adjust to their new life and in 1949 set up MALBEN to help care for the large numbers of aged, many of whom were sick or handicapped, reaching Israel's shores. In the early 1950s, when a flood of aged immigrants arrived from Muslim countries, MALBEN was ready.
Today, JDC Israel sponsors over 150 programs, and though it no longer operates MALBEN, it supports the aged through ESHEL - the Association for the Planning and Development of Services for the Aged - and the JDC/Brookdale Institute engaged in long-term research on the needs of the aged. Other JDC programs aid community centers and yeshivot (talmudic academies) as well as the socially, mentally, and physically handicapped. Yet another key area of interest is manpower development in the social services.