J. D. C. Conference in Geneva Hears Reports on Jews in Poland, China India

Since its return to Poland in December, 1957, the Joint Distribution Committee has already assisted one-third of Poland’s 45,000 Jews, Samuel Haber, JDC director for Poland, reported here today at the four-day JDC country directors meeting. The JDC, expelled from Poland in 1949, was allowed to return at the end of last year.

Most pitiful of all, is the plight of the 12,000 Jewish repatriates returned to Poland from the USSR, Mr. Haber said. “They returned devoid of means to a country that is no longer home for them. Their former homes were occupied by others, the towns they had once lived in were devoid of Jews. The most that the government and local Jewish communities could do for them was to provide them with temporary assistance. Unlike the Christian repatriates, the Jews had no homes, no relatives, no friends to turn to until they could find themselves a new asylum,” Mr. Haber concluded.

Max Braude, ORT director, reported on the organization’s vocational training set-up which operates schools in 18 Polish cities for some 2,600 students, 2,300 of whom are adults learning new trades. Ninety percent of the students are repatriates he reported, and the others are Jews being displaced from managerial positions, government posts and other places in the Polish economy.

Moses A. Leavitt, JDC executive vice chairman, reported on his recent trip around the world during which he studied the situation of Jews in China, India, Pakistan, Australia and Southern Asia. Outside of a few cities, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, the Jewish population of Southeast Asia consists of small communities of between 50 and 150 persons, Mr. Leavitt said.

“Cut off from the main body of Jews elsewhere,” he continued, “there is a danger of assimilation and eventual extinction.” The number of Jews in the area have “dwindled steadily and unless we find the means to keep them together and provide a Jewish education for their youth, they may well disappear entirely,” he warned. He said Jews in India, though not persecuted as Jews, live in misery and their communities are breaking up as many immigrate.

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