American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee History

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee was founded in the year 1914. At that time it was merely a distribution network for transferring funds to Palestine from the American Jews. This was brought about by the request for assistance of the then US Ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau to the American Jews to help the Jews in Palestine after World War I broke out. In answer to his call, Louis Marshall and Jacob Schiff, along with other Jewish leaders in the US were able to raise more than $50,000. JDC was then established to transfer the funds.

At that time, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee was deemed as a temporary organization. Once the need for the financial assistance for the Jews in Turkey is no longer needed, they planned to end its operation. However, as many Jewish communities started facing problems at the turn of the century around the world, the importance of the JDC became more apparent. It was not able to cease its operations, as more work was needed in support and aid of the Jewish communities across the globe.

During the 1920s and the 1930s the humanitarian works of the JDC was important in revitalizing many Jewish communities in Eastern Europe that were affected by the First World War and the Russian Revolution and communism. Similarly, during and after the Second World War, the JDC offered the needed assistance to the European Jews, from moving hundreds of thousands of Jews in Nazi occupied European territories to finding them safe countries to stay, to providing shelters and eventually in helping them rebuild their lives. The birth of the State of Israel eventually necessitated the JDC to center its attention to the many Jews who migrated to Israel, although the Jews from other countries were not forgotten. Since then the works of the JDC included social welfare and improving the lives of Jews across the globe.


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