American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is an American Jewish charitable organization with the declared mission to "serve the needs of Jews throughout the world, particularly where their lives as Jews are threatened or made more difficult."

Known colloquially as "the Joint," (sometimes capitalized as "JOINT") the organization focuses its effort on non-sectarian disaster relief, rescue of Jews that are in imminent danger, relief from hunger and other hardship, cultural renewal, and transitional assistance for individuals who are displaced or have immigrated. The organization no longer limits itself to the humanitarian needs of Jews and operates a number of initiatives to help all people in need throughout the world, including recent drives to alleviate the situation in the Sudan, Indian Ocean tsunami relief, and the 2005 Kashmir earthquake.

The Joint has three operating principles related to: being non-partisan and non-political, providing empowering assistance, and building strategic alliances with other organizations that take over responsibility for what the Joint helped start.

Founding and World War I

The Joint was founded in 1914 when Henry Morgenthau, Sr., then ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, requested funds from Louis Marshall and Jacob H. Schiff to alleviate famine among Palestinian Jews. As World War I led to violence and persecution of Jews also in Russia and Poland, the Joint undertook a number of initiatives to sustain the Jewish communities there, including the establishment of credit unions, agricultural training, and other relief works.

On 4th October 1914 the Orthodox Jews founded the Central Committee to help the suffering Jews in World War I. On 25th October 1914 American Jewish Committee (AJC) founded the American Jewish Relief Committee (AJRC) to help the suffering Jews. Then there was seen that an organization was needed to distribute the funds worldwide, so the "Joint Distribution Committee" (JDC) was founded on 27th November 1914.


The Joint also worked with the Soviet governmental agencies OZET and Komzet to equip and train more than 600,000 Jews to adopt agricultural labor in Ukraine, Crimea and the Jewish Autonomous Oblast as part of the Soviet collectivization program. This effort was discontinued in 1938 when Agro-Joint was expelled from the USSR. [] []

World War II

The Joint helped 250,000 German Jews and 125,000 Austrian Jews emigrate between 1933 and 1939 and continued underground relief efforts throughout World War II to Yugoslavia and Poland. It assisted Jewish refugees wherever possible; one such effort was helping thousands of European Jews in Shanghai ghetto to survive the war. The organization moved its European headquarters from Paris to Lisbon and then back to Paris when it was liberated.

Post-war years

After the war, the Joint provided relief to over 700,000 Jewish survivors in Europe, many of them in displaced persons camps. Offices were established in Buenos Aires to facilitate immigration to Latin America. When the State of Israel was established in 1948, the Joint set up training and other facilities to ease the transition of immigrants. The organization helped with the immigration of more than 440,000 European Jews to Israel.

The Joint spread its coverage in the following years, making efforts on behalf of Jews in the Soviet Union, Yemen, Iraq, Ethiopia, and elsewhere. A transit center was set up in Ladispoli in Italy for Jewish emigrants from Eastern European countries.


* Yehuda Bauer: My Brother's Keeper. A History of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 1929-1939; The Jewish Publication Society of America. Philadelphia 1974; ISBN 0-8276-0048-8

External links

* [ JDC's website]
* [ JDC article from the new Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd edition]
* [ Yehuda Bauer: My Brother's Keeper. A History of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 1929-1939. Transcription with subtitles]

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