NEW YORK (Feb. 16)
Asserting in a resolution its readiness to reopen negotiations for a United Jewish Appeal, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee at an extraordinary meeting today launched a national campaign for $11,250,000 for the relief and rehabilitation of Jews abroad.
The meeting, which heard a message from President Roosevelt expressing his admiration of the J.D.C. and wishing it success, unanimously elected Edward M.M. Warburg as chairman of the J.D.C. in succession to Paul Baerwald, retiring chairman, who was named honorary chairman, a position he will hold jointly with Mrs. Felix M. Warburg. Mr. Warburg was also chosen a national chairman of the 1941 J.D.C. campaign, to serve with Dr. Jonah B. Wise.
The President’s message, read to the some 1,000 Jewish communal leaders from all parts of the United States who attended the day-long meeting, said:
“I have long known of the distinguished record of your organization for widespread humanitarian service in behalf of the victims of war and persecution in many lands overseas. Because I know that millions of men, women and little children look to you for rescue, for food, for refuge and asylum, and for surcease from their overwhelming burdens, I am glad to convey to the extraordinary meeting of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee my best wishes for the success of its endeavors.
“Your cause is the cause of all Americans, for democracy must begin with man’s humanity to man. Through the activities of your organization and other American agencies of mercy, dignity, self-respect and hope for a better order of things have been restored to millions of men and women. they have thus been reminded that they are not alone in their travail and suffering; that free men and women of good will hope for their liberation and in the meantime are ready to come to their assistance.”
The attitude of the J.D.C. on the question of a united appeal was expressed in the following resolution:
“The Joint Distribution Committee has for 26 years dedicated itself to ameliorating the plight of Jewish populations of Eastern and Central Europe and throughout the world. At this crucial period in world affairs, the Joint Distribution Committee looks to the continued support of the Jewish citizens of the United States. Without the active, enthusiastic assistance of local American Jewish communities, and a consecrated sense of service on the part of every man, woman and child who can give and serve, the Joint Distribution Committee will be unable to render an adequate measure of help the those who are sorely in need.
“In the last two years, the J.D.C. has been associated with the United Palestine Appeal and the National Refugee Service in a centralized fund-raising campaign through the United Jewish Appeal. Earnest efforts to continue the United Jewish Appeal in 1941 have thus far come to naught but it is the hope of the J.D.C. that a unified appeal may still be possible. The major difference of opinion arose with respect to the amounts deemed requisite for the activities of the National Refugee Service. The Joint Distribution Committee desires to record now, as it has done in the past, its willingness to accept any equitable proposal, whereby the primary requirements of the National Refugee Service can be met, and whereby the Joint Distribution Committee, as trustee for the welfare of millions of suffering, homeless and persecuted Jews the world over, can receive a proper share of the sums raised in this country.
“At meetings of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds in Atlanta from January 31 to February 3, representatives of the Joint Distribution Committee expressed their entire willingness to accept an arrangement for a fact-finding study of the needs of the National Refugee Service, provided such a study be undertaken under the supervision of fair-minded and objective persons, such as the neutral members of the 1940 U.J.A. Allotment Committee or some other instrumentality acceptable to the three agencies. The Joint Distribution Committee stands ready to abide by the decision of such a group. If the United Palestine Appeal agrees to abide by the same recommendations, the J.D.C. is prepared, in concert with representatives of the Welfare Fund communities, to engage in any discussions leading to the reconstitution of the United Jewish Appeal for 1941.
“If, however, such proposals are not accepted by the United Palestine Appeal, the Joint Distribution Committee is constrained to make independent applications to the various communities in behalf of its own program. In so doing, the J.D.C. recognizes and respects the existence of welfare funds or similar organized fund-raising bodies in the individual communities which conduct local campaigns on the basis of a centralized, unified solicitation. The Joint Distribution Committee pledges itself to work with such local organizations, and to extend to them its fullest cooperation and support. The Joint Distribution Committee is convinced that, in turn, Welfare Funds and other communal fund-raising agencies will give to the J.D.C. increased support consistent with the enormous and increased burdens now resting upon it.”
Other resolutions adopted by the meeting commended Baerwald for his services as chairman since 1933 and James N. Rosenberg for his work as chairman of the J.D.C. Executive Committee, and explained the $11,250,000 quota set for the drive as “both realistic and attainable,” although the real needs of the J.D.C. for 1941 approximated $25,000,000.
Speakers at the meeting included Governor Herhert H. Lehman, Dr. Paul Van Zeeland, Mr. Warburg, Mr. Baerwald, Morris C. Troper, chairman of the J.D.C. s European Executive Council; Joseph C. Hyman, executive vice-chairman of the J.D.C., and Rabbi J.H. Lookstein, of Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun of New York.
In his address, Gov. Lehman linked the work of the J.D.C. in preserving the life, hope and spirit of victims of totalitarian oppression to the world struggle for maintenance of democracy. “In the Joint Distribution Committee,” he said, “we find a channel for the expression of our sympathy, and are enabled not merely to relieve suffering, but to share with the persecuted and the driven those inestimable benefits which the American way of life confers upon us. It is not merely that the J.D.C. offers tangible help–bread for the hungry, clothing for the naked, shelter for the homeless, escape for the enslaved. In the minds of these harassed and persecuted peoples the J.D.C. is the living symbol of a land where there is opportunity and tolerance for all, where all men may enjoy freedom and, unhindered, stretch out their hands in compassion to the suffering.”
Announcing the election of Warburg as his successor, Baerwald said that there would be in Warburg’s assumption of the office “no interruption in the comradeship and friendship in the common endeavor throughout the country” of the J.D.C.’s “vast family.”
Accepting the chairmanship, Warburg emphasized the readiness of the J.D.C. at all times to collaborate with all other agencies, sectarian or non-sectarian, dealing with relief of suffering, and its special responsibility, beyond that, of “helping the Jew who through no fault of his own has been singled out for discrimination and for persecution.”
Hyman, analyzing the budgetary requirements of the organization for the next six months, declared: “If J.D.C. were no longer here in 1941, a J.D.C. would have to be created. A devastating flood is sweeping over Jewish life, and it will spread from land to land unless we stem and dam it. Our most sacred task is to prevent the innocent victims of this tragedy from losing all their hope, their pride, their self-respect.”
Troper described his experiences as European relief director for the J.D.C. from the vantage point of Lisbon and analyzed J.D.C. operations to relieve Jewish distress abroad. “One million men, women and children in more than fifty countries throughout the world were assisted by the J.D.C. during 1940,” he reported. “In German-occupied Poland alone, the J.D.C. is bringing daily assistance to 630,000 people through 2,000 various institutions of aid.”
Troper pointed out that all funds which the J.D.C. remits to Germany and countries annexed or occupied by Germany are made available without sending American dollars into these lands.