J.D.C. Conference in Geneva Hears Reports on Increasing Jewish Needs
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J.D.C. Conference in Geneva Hears Reports on Increasing Jewish Needs

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The Joint Distribution Committee faces the need for much larger funds, this year, to provide care, social services and relief to increasing thousands of Jews uprooted by political and economic dislocations in their homelands, it was revealed here today.

These mounting needs were disclosed at the opening session of the 19th annual JDC Country Directors Conference. Sixty members of the JDC’s executive and field staffs came to the conference for a re-examination of the needs and programs in Western Europe, Israel, North Africa, the Middle East, the Far East and Latin America.

Emphasizing the increasing expansion of JDC services involved, Moses A. Leavitt, of New York, JDC executive vice-chairman, warned that the increasing needs come at a time “when JDC faces a critical drop in income.” Pointing out that JDC receives $7,000,000 a year from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, and that this income will end when the Conference ceases to provide funds in 1965, he declared:

“There is little likelihood of our being able to make up this sum from other sources. For that reason, despite the fact that the 1964 campaign of the United Jewish Appeal–main source of JDC funds–has maintained the level of previous years, we feel we must make an exceptional appeal to our friends in the United States and elsewhere to raise this budget of giving.”


Summarizing reports from 30 West European countries, Julian Green, JDC budget and finance director, told the conference that the number of Jews assisted by the JDC in Western Europe has doubled in the last five years, going up from 37,000 persons to 73,000. Nearly $6,000,000 will have to be spent in this area alone, he said. He pointed out that various political developments have contributed to this higher caseload. The events included the uprooting of Jews from Tunisia, beginning in 1961; the exodus of 110,000 Jews from Algeria to France in 1962; the continuing arrival of Jewish immigrants from Egypt and Morocco; and the increased movement of Jews from Eastern Europe.

“In addition,” he said, “immigration of Jews from Tunisia to France has again been assuming serious proportions in recent months.” He added that in France, where 55,000 persons will benefit from operations supported by JDC, about two-thirds of the funds expended for Western Europe are consumed. In France, he said, the influx of some 150,000 Jewish immigrants, in the last three years, came on the top of “already substantial requirements” for aid to displaced persons and refugees who settled in France after World War II, and remained on relief rolls as “hard-core cases.”

In Italy and Austria, he reported, the ongoing welfare programs today are financed mainly by the local Jewish communities. However, he stated, “the JDC is held responsible for giving full care and maintenance to refugees en route to Vienna and Rome, while waiting for their migration papers to be processed by United Hias Service.”

Analyzing other European problems, Mr. Green noted that the “push” given JDC in the past 10 years by funds from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, used for the rebuilding of much-needed communal buildings and facilities, made it possible for a number of Jewish communities to become completely self-supporting again. He cited as illustrations of such developments the Jewish communities of Denmark, West Germany, Holland and Switzerland. However, he said, the Belgian, Swedish and Norwegian communities have been so swelled by the advent of newcomers from DP camps in Eastern Europe “that they have not yet caught up to their increased communal needs.”


Theodore Feder, country director for Israel, told the conference that the continuing large immigration from Europe and North Africa is causing new problems for Malben, the JDC program for the aged and handicapped immigrants in Israel. Recently, he said, there has been an increase in the proportion of the aged among the new immigrants to Israel. The aged percentage now, he said, is about 13, compared to 8 percent for 1963. “This” he said, “comes at a time when we have been trying to effect an orderly transition

“For some time,” he declared, “we have been giving applicants extramural care, and admitting to institutions only the old people who cannot look after themselves. Now we shall have to take another look at our plans for continuing to reduce the number of aged in Malben-operated homes.”

Other reports were presented at the opening session of the conference today by country directors and representatives from Greece, Norway and Sweden.

Yesterday, Charles Jordan, Overseas Director-General of JDC, was presented with the “Nansen Ring,” an honor created in 1961 in memory of Fridjthof Nansen, first High Commissioner for Refugees. The award was presented to Mr. Jordan by Prof. Martin Kornrumps, of Munich, president of the International Nansen Committee, and Prof. Sahreddin Kerin Gokay, former Turkish Minister of Populations, who was one of the founders of the International Nansen Committee. The “ring” is given to persons outstanding in the field of international refugee relief.

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