American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
AMERICAN JEWISH JOINT DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE
AMERICAN JEWISH JOINT DISTRIBUTION COMMITTEE (known as jdc or The Joint ), independent, non-political American Jewish relief and welfare organization dedicated to providing both emergency aid and long-term assistance to individual Jews and Jewish communities throughout the world outside North America. In 2004, after 90 years of service, jdc was operating in over 60 countries, from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to South America, Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East. Nearly one in 10 Jews outside Israel and the United States and one out of four in Israel were benefiting from jdc programs.
In World War i
jdc was founded in 1914 shortly after the outbreak of World War i to send aid to the Jews of Palestine and Eastern Europe who were in danger of starvation. The first call for help came in a telegram sent in August 1914 by United States Ambassador to Turkey Henry *Morgenthau to prominent American Jewish leader Jacob *Schiff, requesting $50,000 for the Jews of Palestine. Subsequent pleas for help from Jewish communities in Eastern Europe led to the formation of both the Central Relief Committee by American Orthodox Jews and the American Jewish Relief Committee by prominent German-American Jews. On November 27, 1914, the two groups agreed to coordinate the distribution of relief shipments to Jews overseas within a common framework – the Joint Distribution Committee of American Funds for the Relief of Jewish War Sufferers – under the chairmanship of Felix M. *Warburg. The socialist People's Relief Committee joined them in 1915. The diversity of the three groups comprising the jdc ensured that jdc would assist Jews of every religious and political persuasion. By the end of World War i, jdc's leaders had concluded that rescue and relief to Jews in need would not be sufficient. jdc should also undertake to rebuild Jewish communities in Eastern Europe destroyed by the war. Thus, Rescue, Relief and Reconstruction began to emerge as the threefold mission of jdc.
During the course of World War i, jdc raised more than $16,000,000 (equivalent to $236,000,000 in 2005) for relief supplies. These funds were distributed overseas by local committees in Europe and Palestine.
Immediately following World War i, in coordination with the American Relief Administration, jdc sent convoys of trucks with food, clothing, and medicines to Jewish communities in Eastern Europe which had been devastated by the war and by the subsequent regional conflicts and pogroms. Teams of jdc representatives brought in these supplies and established soup kitchens to ward off starvation. The situation in Poland and Russia at that time was still unstable and private militias roamed the countryside. In 1920 a Red Army militia murdered two jdc workers, Rabbis Israel *Friedlander and Bernard *Cantor.
At the same time that immediate relief needs were being addressed, jdc turned its attention to the rebuilding of Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. In the area of health care, jdc financed the repair of damaged Jewish hospitals, provided medical equipment and supplies, and sent more than 100 doctors, social workers, and public health experts from the United States, under the direction of Dr. Boris Bogen, to institute health programs and train local medical personnel. In 1921, jdc initiated the founding of a local medical society in Poland, *toz (Towarzystwo Ochrony Zdrowia Ludnosci Zydowskiej, Society for Safeguarding the Health of the Jewish Population) to supervise these medical activities. jdc also supported *oze, the Russian Jewish Health Organization.
More than 200,000 Jewish children in Eastern Europe had been orphaned by the war. To care for them and for children whose parents could not support them, jdc established orphanages, kindergartens, and summer camps, and provided food supplements and medical and dental treatment for children in need. In 1923 jdc founded *centos (Federation for the Care of Orphans in Poland), an orphan care group that functioned in Poland until World War ii.
One of jdc's priorities was the restoration of Jewish religious and cultural life in Eastern Europe. jdc rebuilt community institutions such as synagogues and ritual baths, which had been destroyed during the war, and provided aid to Jewish schools and yeshivot.
To foster economic recovery in Jewish communities in Eastern Europe, jdc joined together with the Jewish Colonization Association in 1924 to found the American Joint Reconstruction Foundation. The Foundation set up a network of cooperative credit institutions – loan kassas – that provided low-interest loans to Jewish craftsmen and small businessmen in towns and villages throughout Eastern Europe. Interest-free loans were granted to the poorer families. In cooperation with *ort (the Society for Crafts and Agricultural Labor among Jews in Russia, later known as the Organization for Rehabilitation through Training), jdc established vocational training courses for young adults. These measures eased the economic crisis for hundreds of thousands of Jewish families.
In Palestine, once urgent postwar relief needs had been met, jdc began to implement economic, social, and cultural reconstruction programs. In the area of medical care, jdc funded the Malaria Research Unit, which helped combat malaria in Palestine. jdc helped finance the American Zionist Medical Unit sent to Palestine by *Hadassah in 1921, the forerunner of the Hadassah Medical Organization in Palestine.
To care for some 5,000 children orphaned as a result of World War i, jdc established the Palestine Orphan Committee, which supervised these children from 1919 to 1929 until they could become self-supporting. In the area of education, jdc supported schools and yeshivot and provided funds to the newly established Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
In 1922, jdc, in cooperation with the Jewish Colonization Association, established the Central Bank of Cooperative Institutions, which financed agricultural projects in Palestine such as the developing citrus industry. jdc helped establish the Palestine Economic Corporation in 1925 to promote economic development in Palestine, provided subsidies to the Rutenberg Hydroelectric Association, and created a Kuppat Milveh which granted small loans. jdc spent more than $8 million in Palestine during the years 1914–32.
One of jdc's best-known and most innovative projects, the Agro-Joint, was created by jdc during the 1920s in the newly established communist Soviet Union. In 1924, with the consent of the Soviet government, jdc set up the American Jewish Joint Agricultural Corporation (Agro-Joint) to promote agricultural settlement among Jews. Agro-Joint's purpose was fully supported by the Soviet authorities, who favored redirecting Jewish economic activity from commerce to manual labor. Agro-Joint also sought to solve the problem of Jews who were left without a livelihood when the communists outlawed their professions as tradesmen or religious officials. Between 1924 and 1938, under the direction of Russian–born agronomist Dr. Joseph *Rosen (1877–1949), Agro-Joint helped settle more than 100,000 Jews in agricultural colonies in the Crimea and the Ukraine.
In the late 1930s, however, the Soviet government under Stalin became increasingly suspicious of foreign organizations, and a number of Agro-Joint staff members were arrested and executed. In 1938, faced with growing hostility on the part of the Soviet authorities, Agro-Joint disbanded its operations in the Soviet Union. During World War ii, the colonies established by Agro-Joint were overrun by the German armies and most of the colonists were murdered.
By the mid-1920s, jdc, which had been created as an ad hoc body, had begun to function as a major international Jewish relief organization. Some jdc leaders believed that with the basic relief and reconstruction of Jewish life in Eastern Europe under way, jdc's goals had been achieved and the organization should disband. This opinion was expressed again during the Depression years when jdc's income declined drastically.
However, recurring crises in Eastern and Western Europe and the continuing needs of Jewish communities in Palestine, the Soviet Union, and elsewhere showed the need for a permanent organization. In 1931, jdc was officially incorporated in New York State as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.
The rise of Hitler in 1933 confronted jdc with new challenges. In addition to its reconstruction programs in Eastern Europe, jdc now provided support to the Jewish community of Germany, which became increasingly impoverished under Nazi rule. From 1933 to 1939, jdc spent $5 million in Germany, subsidizing medical care, Jewish schools, welfare programs, and vocational training. With the German invasion of Austria and its incorporation of Czechoslovakia in 1938 and 1939, jdc extended its support to the Jewish communities in those countries as well. Following the rise of Hitler, jdc transferred its European headquarters from Berlin, where it had been since 1922, to Paris.
jdc's primary efforts from 1933, however, were directed toward assisting the tens of thousands of German, Austrian, and Czech Jews who sought desperately to emigrate from German-occupied countries and to find safe havens abroad. jdc helped the emigrants with travel expenses, provided them with food, shelter, and medical care when they were stranded en route, assisted them in obtaining berths on ships and places on trains, helped them in obtaining visas and paid landing fees so that they could enter countries of refuge. In 1939, when the German ship St. Louis, with more than 900 Jewish passengers fleeing from Germany aboard, was denied permission to land in Cuba, jdc arranged for the passengers to be accepted by England, Holland, Belgium, and France, so they would not have to return to Germany. Most passengers, not only those in England, survived.
After the Dominican Republic offered to take in refugees at the *Evian Conference in 1938, jdc founded the Dominican Republic Settlement Association (dorsa), which established an agricultural settlement for refugees in Sosua. In 1941, when 2,000 Polish Jewish refugees in Lithuania received visas to Japan, jdc subsidized their travel expenses. When over 1,000 *"illegal" immigrants bound for Palestine were stranded in Kladovo, Yugoslavia, in 1940, jdc supported them for an entire year while they waited for a ship to take them to safety. The ship did not arrive before the German invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941, and the Germans subsequently murdered most of the refugees.
By 1939, jdc had helped more than 100,000 refugees emigrate from Germany. In 1940, jdc was assisting refugees in transit in more than 40 countries in Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
In World War ii
After the outbreak of World War ii, until the United States entered the war, jdc could still function legally in German-occupied countries. In Poland, for example, jdc opened shelters and soup kitchens for the thousands of Jewish refugees who crowded into the cities. In the spring of 1940, jdc shipped tons of foodstuffs to Poland for Passover. jdc continued to support hospitals, child-care centers, and educational and cultural programs in occupied Poland. After the establishment of the Warsaw ghetto in November 1941, jdc-Warsaw supported the soup kitchens, the Jewish hospitals, and the educational and cultural programs in the ghetto. In Cracow, jdc supported the Jüdische Soziale Selbsthilfe (jss), which distributed food, clothing, and medicines to ghettos and labor camps in the area of the General gouvernment (German designation for occupied Central Poland). Of the three million Jews in Poland in 1941, some 600,000 were receiving assistance from jdc.
With the entry of the United States into the war in December 1941, jdc – an American organization – could no longer operate legally in enemy countries. In countries such as Poland and France, local jdc representatives now had to operate underground. Furthermore, jdc could no longer transfer funds to enemy countries because U.S. State Department regulations prohibited such transfers and stipulated that a U.S. Treasury Department license must be obtained for any transfer of funds overseas, even to neutral countries. In response, jdc authorized local representatives in German-occupied countries to borrow money locally from wealthy Jews on the promise of repayment by jdc after the war (loans après).
jdc representatives responded in different ways to the regulations imposed by the American government. The jdc administration in New York, headed by Chairman Edward M.M. Warburg, advocated strict adherence to the State Department guidelines. However, the overseas professional staff, headed by Morris Troper, the director of European Affairs, and his deputy and successor, Dr. Joseph Schwartz, sought greater flexibility. Schwartz, in particular, who headed jdc's European headquarters in Lisbon from 1940 until the end of the war, supported illegal rescue and resistance activities in German-occupied Europe. As a rule, those in the United States were more sensitive to the requirements of American regulations and would not jeopardize the jdc's standing. Those on the ground in Europe were confronted more directly with the desperation of the situation and were more willing to employ extra-legal means.
In June 1940, shortly before the Germans occupied Paris, Troper and Schwartz left Paris and transferred jdc's European headquarters to neutral Lisbon. There, Schwartz leased every available ship to enable the thousands of refugees arriving in Lisbon to proceed to safe havens in North and South America. Schwartz provided funds to legal and illegal Jewish organizations in France, including the Jewish underground resistance organization L'Armée Juive, whose treasurer, Jules Jefroykin, became the jdc representative in France in 1941.
In neutral Switzerland Saly *Mayer, the local jdc representative, channeled jdc funds to Jews throughout Occupied Europe and, on Schwartz's instructions, smuggled funds to France as well. Schwartz authorized the use of funds smuggled into France by couriers, or raised by means of loans, to support 7,000 Jewish children in hiding in France and to smuggle over 1,000 children to Switzerland and Spain. In 1944, jdc spent more than $1 million on rescue in France alone.
After the United States' entry into the war, the jdc representatives in the Warsaw ghetto – Isaac Giterman, David Guzik, Leib Neustadt, and the historian Emanuel *Ringelblum – continued their activities underground. By means of loans, they secretly supported the soup kitchens, the "house committees" that provided food and educational programs for children, the underground schools and newspapers, and the underground cultural activities. In 1943, Guzik used jdc funds to help finance preparations for the Warsaw ghetto revolt.
In Shanghai, where jdc was providing daily meals to 8,000 impoverished Jewish refugees from Central and Eastern Europe, the United States' entry into the war in December 1941 threatened the continued existence of the soup kitchens. Laura Margolis, the jdc representative in Shanghai, persuaded the Japanese, who had occupied Shanghai, to allow her to continue operating the soup kitchens by means of loans from members of the local Jewish community. Interned as an enemy alien in February 1943, Margolis was later released in a prisoner exchange.
jdc relief and rescue activities continued during 1943–44. jdc sent relief parcels to concentration camps by way of Lisbon, and to Polish Jewish refugees in the Soviet Union via Teheran. jdc helped finance the activities of the War Refugee Board (wrb), established by the United States Government in 1944. Through the wrb, jdc transmitted $100,000 to Swedish diplomat Raoul *Wallenberg to facilitate the rescue of tens of thousands of Jews in Hungary.
With the limited resources at its disposal, jdc made valiant efforts to provide relief and rescue to the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust period. From a welfare agency engaged in temporary relief and reconstruction primarily in Eastern Europe and Palestine, it emerged as the only Jewish organization involved in immigration, refugee aid, and rescue operations in virtually every part of the globe. jdc was not able to save the overwhelming majority of Europe's Jews, but there is no doubt that hundreds of thousands of Jews who escaped from Nazi Europe, owed their lives to jdc.
Early Postwar Period
During the war, jdc's income was limited. Expenditures fell from $8.4 million in 1939 to $5.7 million in 1941, and totaled only $52 million for the entire war period. Following the war, there was a dramatic increase in jdc income – from $25 million in 1945 to more than $70 million in 1948. In 1947, more than one half the survivors in Europe – some 700,000 Jews – received help from the jdc.
During the years from 1945 to the early 1950s, jdc cared for over 200,000 Jews in Displaced Persons camps in Europe, providing them with food supplements, medical care, and clothing, and setting up schools and religious and cultural programs. jdc food shipments to Romania and Hungary saved hundreds of thousands of Jews there from starvation. Throughout liberated Europe, jdc aided in the care of child survivors, in the tracing of relatives, in the reestablishment of Jewish religious and cultural life, and in the immigration of survivors to North and South America, Australia, and countries in Western Europe.
Under the influence of Joseph Schwartz, jdc supported the *Beriḥah, the "illegal" movement of Jews from Eastern to Western Europe, and from there to Palestine. Thousands of Jewish *"illegal" immigrants interned by the British on Cyprus were cared for by jdc, which provided medical, educational, and social services to the Jewish detainees.
During the years following World War ii, jdc invested heavily in the reconstruction of Europe's Jewish communities. With the aid of funds from the *Conference on Material Claims Against Germany, jdc helped rebuild synagogues, hospitals, schools, and community centers in France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, and other countries. In 1949, jdc founded the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work in Paris to help war-torn Europe's survivors rebuild their lives. In France, jdc helped establish the Fonds Social Juif Unifié (fsju) the chief fund-raising body of the French Jewish community. In the 1950s and 1960s, jdc helped the French Jewish community meet the challenge of absorbing more than 100,000 Jewish immigrants to France from Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria.
jdc became involved in North Africa itself during World War ii, when camps for Jewish refugees were established in Morocco. From the 1950s on, jdc has supported educational, social, medical, and welfare programs for Jews in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Ceuta, and Melilla. jdc supports medical programs conducted by ose (Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants) and educational programs conducted by the *Alliance Israélite Universelle, Lubavitch, Ozar Hatorah, and ort. Beginning in 1949, jdc established similar programs in Iran.
After the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, jdc subsidized the immigration of hundreds of thousands of Jews to the fledgling state from Europe and from countries in North Africa and the Middle East. In 1949 jdc financed Operation Magic Carpet, the airlift of some 50,000 Yemenite Jews from Aden to Israel, and Operation Ezra and Nehemia, which brought thousands of Iraqi and Kurdish Jews to the Jewish state.
Many new immigrants to Israel, among them Holocaust survivors, were handicapped or suffering from chronic illnesses. The young state of Israel was not equipped to provide the long-term care they needed. In 1949 therefore, jdc in cooperation with the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government, founded *malben to provide institutional care and social services to handicapped and chronically ill immigrants. malben, which from 1951 was financed solely by jdc, established hospitals, clinics, and old-age homes and fostered the development of private and public organizations in Israel for the care of the handicapped. From 1957, malben cared for veteran Israelis as well as new immigrants. In 1958 jdc established the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem to address the social problems of the new Jewish state.
At the end of 1975 jdc transferred its malben institutions to Israeli government authorities. In 1976, jdc established jdc-Israel and moved its Israel headquarters from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Henceforth, jdc-Israel would develop social service programs for populations in need in Israel through partnerships with Israeli government and non-profit agencies.
In Eastern Europe
Dramatic changes in jdc activities during the second half of the 20th century occurred in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Immediately following World War ii, jdc was active in East European countries, helping survivors and aiding in the reconstruction of Jewish communities. After the Communist takeover in Eastern Europe, jdc was expelled from Poland, Romania, and Bulgaria in 1949, from Czechoslovakia in 1950, and from Hungary in 1953. Only in Yugoslavia was jdc permitted to continue its activities.
In 1957, jdc was readmitted to Poland to care for 19,000 repatriates from the Soviet Union but was expelled again in the wake of the 1967 Six-Day War. That same year, however, jdc was readmitted to Romania, where it supported Jews in need and provided kosher food and religious services through the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania (fedrom). In August 1967, Charles *Jordan, jdc's executive vice chairman, was murdered in Prague under mysterious circumstances.
In 1980, through the efforts of jdc's Executive Vice President Ralph I. Goldman, jdc resumed direct operations in Hungary, and in 1981, in Czechoslovakia and Poland. jdc concentrated initially on aid to elderly Holocaust survivors in these countries and on the establishment of kosher canteens, support for cultural activities, and the provision of religious books and supplies. jdc subsequently expanded its activities to include educational programs for children and the development of local Jewish community leadership.
With the opening of the gates to Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s, jdc set up transit centers for the transmigrants in Vienna, and in Rome, Ostia, and Ladispoli. To help absorb over 840,000 immigrants who arrived in Israel from the Soviet Union during the 1980s and 1990s, jdc established vocational training courses, youth programs, and special projects for the immigrants, particularly those from Bukhara and the Caucasus.
With the arrival of Ethiopian Jews in Israel through Operation Moses in 1984–85, jdc established vocational training courses, health education projects, family counseling, and youth projects to aid in their absorption. In the 1980s jdc initiated medical and agricultural assistance programs in Ethiopia and, in 1990–91, provided food and medical and social services to Ethiopian Jews waiting in Addis Ababa to immigrate to Israel. jdc played a major role in facilitating Operation Solomon, the airlift of some 14,000 of these Ethiopian Jews to Israel in 1991. Among the innovative programs designed by jdc for the Ethiopian immigrants was pact (Parents and Children Together) – begun in 1998 in partnership with American Jewish Federations and Israeli agencies – which supports early-childhood education for Ethiopian-Israeli preschoolers.
During the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, jdc-Israel continued its assistance to weak and disadvantaged populations in Israel. Programs for the care of the elderly were initiated and developed by eshel, the Association for the Planning and Development of Services to the Aged in Israel, founded in 1969 in partnership with the Israeli government. Research in the areas of health, aging, immigration, children and youth, and disabilities was carried out by the Brookdale Institute of Gerontology and Human Development, established in 1974 in partnership with the Israeli government and renamed the Myers-jdc-Brookdale Institute in 2003. During the 1970s, jdc took part in the development of a network of community centers in Israel and, in 1976, initiated the Joseph Schwartz Program to train senior staff for these centers. Through the Center for Social Policy Studies in Israel, established in 1982 and renamed the Taub Center in 2003, jdc provides data on economic and social trends in Israel to national decision makers. elka, the Association for the Advancement and Development of Manpower in the Social Services, founded in 1984, conducts training courses for managers in Israel's civil service.
Beginning in the 1950s, jdc placed special emphasis on programs for children in Israel. jdc supported voluntary agencies for handicapped children including akim for the mentally retarded, micha and shema for the deaf and hearing-impaired, and ilan for children with neuro-muscular disorders. jdc-Israel's Mifneh program, created in 1987, encouraged potential school dropouts to remain in school, while subsequent programs introduced innovative teaching methods into Israeli schools. During the 1990s, jdc-Israel helped found a network of emergency centers for abused children and, in 1998, together with the government of Israel and the uja-Federation of New York, jdc established Ashalim to coordinate the development of programs in Israel for children at risk. In 2002, in the wake of the outbreak of terror attacks in Israel, jdc-Israel, with funding from the United Jewish Communities/Federation Israel Emergency Campaign, provided summer camps for 300,000 Israeli children.
Since the 1990s, jdc has placed increasing emphasis on programs to promote employment among Arabs, the ultra-Orthodox, and the handicapped. In 2005 jdc launched a partnership with the Israeli government to promote employment among these and other underemployed populations.
Throughout its history, jdc has recognized the importance of Jewish tradition and education. jdc was an important source of support for yeshivot in Europe and Palestine during the 1920s and 1930s. Following World War ii, jdc played a major role in rebuilding yeshivot, which had been destroyed during World War ii, and in supporting Jewish educational institutions in Jewish communities throughout the world.
In the Former Soviet Union
In 1988, after an absence of 50 years, jdc returned to the Soviet Union. During its official absence, jdc had provided aid to Soviet Jews in need by indirect means. In 1988, however, Ralph Goldman negotiated jdc's resumption of open operations in what was soon to become the Former Soviet Union (fsu).
jdc faced a double challenge in the fsu: how to reawaken Jewish identity in a Jewish population that had been cut off from the religious, cultural, and intellectual sources of Jewish life for 70 years, and how to create a Jewish community infrastructure where none existed. To strengthen Jewish knowledge and identity, jdc sent Judaica libraries (sets of Jewish texts in Russian translation) to Jewish communities in the fsu. By 2005 there were more than 180 libraries in over 100 communities. jdc encouraged the development of university courses on Jewish subjects, subsidized the Moscow Cantorial Academy and the Mekor Chaim Judaic Studies educational center in Moscow, and provided Russian translations for the Jewish prayer book, the Passover Haggadah, the Pentateuch, and other Jewish texts. jdc created educational materials for Jewish children, including a Russian-language version of Sesame Street, subsidized Jewish schools, and organized summer camps. jdc sent ritual items and kosher food for the holidays, and organized communal seders and other religious activities.
To meet the needs of indigent elderly Jews, many of them Holocaust survivors, jdc established community-based welfare centers called Heseds to supply kosher food and medical care. By 2005, there were 174 Hesed centers serving 233,000 elderly Jews across the fsu. In addition to providing food, medical assistance, and home care, these centers distributed fuel for heating and blankets for the cold Russian winters.
To foster community development in the fsu, jdc established a network of 184 Jewish community centers, sent Russian Jewish activists to leadership training courses in Israel, and helped establish 27 Hillel centers for Jewish students and young adults. In late 2002, jdc began creating Jewish family services modeled on those in the United States. By the end of the 1990s, jdc's program in the FSU was the single largest jdc program, with local offices in 15 cities across the fsu.
jdc's programs since the 1990s address the changing needs of Jewish communities all over the world. In Western Europe, jdc has concentrated on strengthening community development and fostering inter-community cooperation. jdc supports the European Council of Jewish Communities and the European Union of Jewish Students, and in 1994 established the European Center for Jewish Leadership (leatid-europe).
In Eastern Europe, jdc has concentrated on strengthening Jewish education and Jewish identity among Jewish youth. In Poland, jdc conducts seminars at the summer camp at Srodborow and has established a resource center for educational materials in Warsaw. jdc supports the Association of Holocaust Children in Poland, whose 500 members were hidden as children during the Holocaust. In Hungary, jdc subsidizes the Anne Frank High School in Budapest and supports the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation/American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee International Summer Camp at Szarvas. The camp hosts 2,000 youngsters per year from 25 countries in central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union.
jdc continues to see its role as providing rescue and relief in emergency situations. The outbreak of fighting in Yugoslavia in 1992 led jdc to undertake rescue efforts there. Through its connections with the Yugoslav welfare agency La Benevolencija, and its good relations with all sides in the war, jdc was able to send food and medications for distribution in beleaguered Sarajevo. As fighting intensified, jdc organized an airlift from Sarajevo and then a series of bus convoys from the city, which brought over 2,000 individuals (about half of them non-Jews) to safety. jdc aided in the immigration of the refugees to Israel and elsewhere, and in rebuilding the former Yugoslavia's remaining Jewish communities.
The economic crisis in Argentina in 2000 led to an emergency jdc welfare initiative to assist tens of thousands of Jews who were suddenly impoverished. At its peak in 2003, this initiative provided relief to over 36,000 people. jdc had been active in South America since the 1930s, when jdc sought havens there for Jewish refugees from Europe. jdc has supported Jewish education and community programs in Argentina and in other communities, such as Chile and Uruguay. In 1987 jdc established the Latin America Training and Research Center for the Development of Jewish Communal Leadership (leatid), and in 1991 renewed its activities in Cuba after an easing of restrictions there.
Changes in the political climate have enabled jdc to resume activities in a number of Arab and Moslem countries. jdc was able to provide direct assistance to Jews in Egypt from 1982, to aid the Jews in Yemen from 1990, and, in the 1990s, played a pivotal role in the departure of most of the remaining 4,000 Jews from Syria. In 1992, jdc resumed activities in Turkey. jdc has developed an extensive program in India and assists the small numbers of Jews in other Asian countries.
jdc receives a major part of its funding for overseas activities from the North American Jewish community.
jdc's global activities include non-Jews as well as Jews. In 1986, jdc established the International Development Program (idp), to meet the urgent needs of populations around the world following natural or other disasters. jdc-idp has provided aid to 50 countries worldwide, including Armenia and Turkey following earthquakes, and Rwanda, Bosnia, and Kosovo following civil war, and has established a Palestinian-Israeli healthcare program in the West Bank and Gaza. It provided relief and reconstruction to South Asian communities devastated by the tsunami in 2004.
In the 21st century, jdc continues to define its mission as Rescue, Relief, and Rehabilitation. In the pursuit of these goals, jdc seeks to strengthen Jewish identity, to build Jewish communities, and to preserve the Jewish cultural heritage.
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[Sara Kadosh (2nd ed.)]