J. D. C. Spent $27,700,000 Last Year in 25 Countries; Aided 200,000 Jews
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J. D. C. Spent $27,700,000 Last Year in 25 Countries; Aided 200,000 Jews

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More than 200,000 men, women and children received assistance of one kind or another from the Joint Distribution Committee during last year, according to the 1958 annual report issued by the JDC today. Of this group, more than 100,000 were in Moslem countries, principally North Africa and Iran. Assistees also included some 57,000 in Europe, 40,000 in Israel, and more than 4,000 in such other areas as Australia.

“Perhaps the most notable single development of 1958 was the assistance which JDC had undertaken to provide to Jews in Poland,” the report states. “Since December 1957, when JDC resumed its activities in Poland, JDC aid has reached some 22,000 individuals.

Turning to the Moslem world, the summary indicates that while “relative quiet continued for the vast majority of Jews living in the Moslem world, a sense of insecurity continued to prevail for men, women and children Living under the shadow of Arab nationalism. “Quite naturally, this feeling was at its strongest in Egypt. But it was perceptible even in Tunisia where there is no discrimination against Jews or ethnic minorities,” the report stated.

“Despite all difficulties, JDC’s program in Moslem countries reached more needy Jews than in any other area of the world–in 1958 more than 100,000 men, women and children in these areas received JDC assistance,” Moses A. Leavitt, executive vice chairman, stressed. Morocco had the largest number requiring aid–some 61,200. There were 16,600 beneficiaries in Tunisia: 4,000 in Algeria, and some 18,900 in Iran. Because Iran has remained unaffected by the conflicts in the Middle East, the JDC has been able to continue its program on behalf of the Iranian Jewish population with no hindrance, he pointed out.

Mr. Leavitt declared that despite a decrease in the number of refugees during the year. “JDC’s caseload was even larger at the end of 1958 than it had been at the beginning of the year.” The expenditures of the JDC totalled $27,703,400 for its operations in Israel, Moslem countries and Europe.


“Despite some notable advances during the year,” Mr. Leavitt declared, “the outlook at year’s end was that in 1959 even greater numbers of men, women and children would require JDC’s aid than in the year that was ending.” For 1959 JDC has adopted a budget of $29,593,000 for aid to more than 250,000 needy Jews overseas. The financial mainstay of JDC’s overseas rehabilitation and reconstruction programs, the report notes, continues to be funds provided through the nationwide campaign of the United Jewish Appeal.

Summarizing his report, Mr. Leavitt reported that “even when there is prosperity, there are many who are hungry and need to be fed; and even when the very echoes of World War II have faded into the past and all the world has recovered, there are men and women still wounded and sick and in need of our aid.”

Among the more than 200,000 needy Jews in all parts of the world who received aid during 1958, the largest number–84,000–benefited from feeding programs, Mr. Leavitt indicated. JDC aid also included: cash relief for 27,000; medical care for 31,000; educational assistance for 68,000; cultural and religious assistance for 35,985; 5,865 in homes for the aged; and 5,695 young people and children receiving other kinds of aid. Among other major developments of the year, Mr. Leavitt cited:

1. Aid for more than 19,000 aged; ill and handicapped newcomers and their families in Israel through Malben, the JDC welfare program in the Jewish State.

2. Some 6,309 loans amounting to more than $2,800,000, granted by 38 JDC-sponsored loan institutions in 19 countries to Jewish artisans and professionals.

3. The distribution by JDC of more than 14,000,000, pounds of U.S. Department of Agriculture surplus commodities to 103,600 persons monthly in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Iran, Israel, Italy, Morocco, Tunisia and Yugoslavia.

4. The provision of vocational training through ORT to between 15,000 and 20,000 persons. JDC’s allocation to ORT for this purpose was $1,605,000 for 1958.

5. The convening of a special conference on local community organization and fundraising to assist European Jewish communities toward achieving self-support.

6. The continuance of JDC specialized assistance, including Passover aid in Europe, Israel and Moslem countries.

7. The completion of a new wing and renovation of the Jewish hospital in Teheran, Iran.

Mr. Leavitt declared that “one of the most notable developments of the year was the dedication and opening of the Paul Baerwald School of Social Work in Jerusalem. “Established under the auspices of the Joint Distribution Committee, the Hebrew University and the Israel Ministry of Social Welfare, the school will offer a three-year course leading to a Bachelor of Social Work degree.

“In one year JDC’s program in Poland has grown to the point where there are more beneficiaries in that country than in any other of Europe,” Mr. Leavitt stressed in his report. “JDC resumed its activities in Poland in December 1957, to render help to repatriated Jews from Russia, Gradually, however, it has become involved in assistance to the ‘settled’ Jewish population as well,” he emphasized. The total Jewish population in Poland is estimated at about 40,000.

Mr. Leavitt noted that JDC-subsidized aid to Jews in Poland included: child feeding 2,235 monthly; grants for furniture and living quarters, 9,753 persons; cash assistance to aged, invalids and others, 1,675 a month; one-time grants to welfare clients, 1,670; grants to ORT students and their dependents, 5,000 a month; individual loans, 135; summer camps for 3,000 children, and 30 loans to Jewish producers’ cooperatives employing some 1,000 persons.

A major area of JDC assistance in Europe was also France, which had a total of 17,500 beneficiaries. Other countries with major programs included Austria, Germany and Italy. JDC also continued its welfare programs in a number of other European countries, including Belgium, Greece, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Yugoslavia.


During 1958, JDC aided some 40,000 persons in Israel, Mr. Leavitt reported, nearly half of whom receive aid from Malben, the JDC welfare program on behalf of aged, ill and handicapped newcomers to the Jewish State. Assistance provided by JDC in Israel outside the Malben program included aid for cultural and religious institutions, including yeshivot, research projects and assistance to refugee rabbis, with a total of 13,000 beneficiaries. In addition, JDC aid to the ORT vocational training program in Israel reached 8,264 beneficiaries.

In addition to Mr. Leavitt’s review of the year’s operations, the annual report contains accounts of JDC’s work by Edward M. M. Warburg, JDC chairman and honorary chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, and James H. Becker, chairman of the JDC National Council. Mr. Warburg said he was “overwhelmed” by what he saw and heard at the 1958 JDC Country Directors Conference in Geneva. Noting the presence at the conference of representatives from Europe, North Africa, the Near East and Australia, Mr. Warburg declared that “equally significant–perhaps more so–were the places not filled, the chairs which stood empty.

“In spirit there sat in those chairs, and joined in our deliberations, representatives of other communities in which JDC’s aid is felt today, communities in which destitute Jews are receiving the aid they so desperately need; but communities which for one reason or another were not able to send their representatives to this conference in Geneva,” the JDC chairman stated. One day they too may sit with us–but until then, from such conferences as this there will continue to flow–across borders and barriers–a heartwarming sense of contact and spiritual solidarity,” Mr. Warburg stressed.

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