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Schwartz, Joseph J.


SCHWARTZ, JOSEPH J. (1899–1975), U.S. communal leader and Semitics scholar. Schwartz was born in Russia and taken to the United States in 1907. He studied at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary in New York (1915–21) and at Yale University (1926–28), and he taught at the American University, Cairo, Egypt (1928), and at Long Island University (1930–33). His first work in the community was as director of public information (1929–31) and executive director (1931–38) for the Federation of Jewish Charities in Brooklyn, New York. During World War ii, with the approval of the U.S. War Refugee Board and through neutral representatives, he negotiated the rescue of thousands of Jews from Germany and the occupied countries. As chairman of the European executive council of the *American Joint Distribution Committee (jdc; 1940–49), Schwartz supervised relief and welfare programs in 30 countries, involving over one million people. After the war he directed the transfer of over 500,000 Jews to Israel from Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. He also helped 100,000 Jewish refugees emigrate to the U.S., Canada, and Latin America. In 1945, at President Truman's request, he assisted Earl G. Harrison, the U.S. member of the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, in surveying and writing the first report to the U.S. people on the conditions of displaced persons in the camps in the U.S. zones of occupation.

He was director general of jdc (1950–51) and from 1951 to 1955 was vice chairman of the United Jewish Appeal; from 1955 to 1970 he was vice president of the State of Israel Bond Organization. From 1967 he served as president of the Encyclopaedia Judaica Research Foundation. Schwartz achieved general recognition as one of the foremost Jewish social workers. He was also known as one of the most effective and successful large-scale fund raisers. A former editor of Scripta Mathematica, he published articles and monographs on Semitics and Jewish affairs.


Y. Bauer, Flight and Rescue: Brichah (1970), index.

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