Joint Distribution Committee

views updated


Charitable organization that assists Jews in distress.

The Joint Distribution Committee ( JDC) was established in 1914 by a committee of relief agencies, including the American Jewish Relief Committee (affiliated with the American Jewish Committee), the Central Relief Committee (part of the Orthodox movement), and the People's Relief Committee (affiliated with American labor groups). Initially, the JDC assisted Jews in central and eastern Europe before, during, and after World War I, and later it helped reconstruct the Jewish communities in those regions. Before and during World War II, the JDC worked to rescue Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe; after the war, it assisted in the resettlement of displaced persons. Thereafter, the JDC focused its attention on helping the Jews of central and eastern Europe and those in Muslim countries. In 1991 it helped the Israeli government airlift nearly 15,000 Ethiopian Jews from Ethiopia to Israel.

In the early years of the twenty-first century the JDC, in response to a rising level of terrorist attacks in Israeli cities, funded activities for Israeli children who were left alone in the afternoon while their parents worked. It also became active in helping the Jewish community in Argentina, hit by the economic crisis there, setting up a soup kitchen for Jewish and non-Jewish children.


Handlin, Oscar. A Continuing Task: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, 19141964. New York: Random House, 1964.

bryan daves
updated by paul rivlin