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Thousands of Destitute Jews in Rome Require Immediate Assistance; Being Aided by JDC

Nearly one-fourth of the Jewish population of Rome, and over 1,000 Jewish refugees from other sections of Italy and foreign countries residing here, are in need of immediate assistance, it was reported here today by Nax Perlman, Joint Distribution Committee representative in Italy, following a week-long survey of conditions in the Rome area.

Nine-hundred and ten foreign Jews of 14 nationalities and 460 Italian Jewish refugees from occupied territory are presently receiving assistance in Rome from the Joint Distribution Committee through the “Delasem,” its local committee here, Perlman said, and the JDC – through the Delasem – has undertaken to provide assistance for 2,000 destitute Jews of Rome and 250 Jews in small towns in the Rome area.

Under normal conditions, Perlman pointed out, the Italian Jews would be able to meet their own relief requirements, but the Rome community has no funds at present. It has been estimated that 9,000 Jews remain in Rome of the 12,000 who formerly dwelt here. There are in addition 1,100 foreign Jewish refugees. The Rome Jewish community contained a large proportion of small traders, artisans and workers who were made destitute by Fascist discriminatory laws and Nazi persecutions.

The JDC committee here, Perlman disclosed, continued to function during the nine months the Germans occupied the capital. During this period they borrowed 9,000,000 lire under an agreement by which the JDC promised to repay the loan after hostilities ceased. At present the JDC is working here under the aegis of the Inter-governmental Committee on Refugees, which is subordinate to the Allied Control Commission.

Outlining future plans of the JDC in this area, Perlman said that it was planning to establish vocational training projects in Rome and is also studying the possibility of setting up a farm training school. The community has been asked to assist in reopening the Jewish dispensary and hospital of fifty beds, which was closed down by the Fascists and Germans and stripped of all its supplies and equipment. Plans are also under way to establish a school for Jewish children and to open a hostel to house the Jewish refugees who keep drifting into Rome from the battle areas. All these activities of the JDC, Perlman said, are being financed by a grant of $140,000 made by the home office in New York.

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