J.D.C. Reports Helping 430,000 Needy Jews Last Year in 30 Countries
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J.D.C. Reports Helping 430,000 Needy Jews Last Year in 30 Countries

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More than 430,000 needy Jews in 30 countries received some form of assistance from the Joint Distribution Committee during 1964, it was disclosed today in the agency’s annual report. The figure represents an increase of some 20,000 over 1963. Among those aided were nearly 93,000 in Israel, 89,000 in Europe, and over 64,000 in the Moslem countries.

The report was prepared by the late Moses A. Leavitt, JDC executive vice-chairman, before his death on June 21. He has been succeeded as the agency’s executive head by Charles H. Jordan, with the title of director-general. In a brief introduction Mr. Leavitt warned of “harder days a head.” He noted that the JDC, which had been receiving nearly one-quarter of its finances from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, could no longer count on those funds. The grants, which averaged about $7,000,000 annually for the past 11 years, ended in 1964.

“These funds,” Mr. Leavitt reported,” helped JDC to provide welfare, medical and other programs for individual victims of the Nazis; they also aided in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Jewish communities–particularly in Western Europe–which had been completely destroyed between 1939 and 1945.”

JDC’s global operations in 1964 cost $29,378,000, an increase of over $150,000 above 1963, the report showed. For its programs in 1965, JDC has adopted a budget of $28,853,500. Since its inception in 1914, JDC has spent approximately $806,485,000 in a wide range of welfare and reconstruction programs. The agency, which marked of its funds from the campaigns of the United Jewish Appeal.

In a foreword to the report, Edward M. M. Warburg, JDC chairman, paid tribute to Mr. Leavitt, calling him a “gifted and devoted professional, a leader of the American Jewish community, a world authority on refugee needs and problems.” “His dedication and his skills helped to save and to shape the lives of hundreds of thousands of men and women all over the world,” he added.

Despite the revival of Jewish communities and general progress throughout Western Europe, Mr. Leavitt noted, there were still some problem areas that required special attention. One of these was France. The report indicated a sizable increase in the number of Jewish newcomers from Tunisia in France in 1964. Although far below the number of Jews who had arrived from Algeria in 1962, the Tunisian Jews “represent a far greater need,” he stated. They do not come as French citizens–as did most of the Algerian Jews–and are therefore not eligible for housing care, medical benefits, unemployment insurance and other forms of assistance which the French Government extends to its own citizens. As a result, Mr. Leavitt reported, 54,500 Jews in France alone received some form of JDC aid in 1964.


In 1964, JDC provided assistance to 93,000 men, women, and children in Israel, an increase of 6,500 over 1963. JDC’s program in Israel included 52,250 who were aided by Malben, the JDC welfare program on behalf of aged, ill and handicapped newcomers to Israel.

In addition, JDC continued its traditional support of cultural and religious programs, aiding close to 20,000 Israelis. During the 1963-64 school year JDC gave financial aid to 108 yeshivoth and a school for girls, with a total enrollment of 13,610 students. It also provided assistance to refugee rabbis and several research projects employing over 100 people. JDC-supported ORT schools in Israel provided vocational training for almost 21,000 in 1964.

The continuing exodus of Jews from North Africa is graphically reflected in the drop in JDC beneficiaries from 61,000 in 1963 to 41,000 in 1964. These figures represent programs in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. By contrast, Mr. Leavitt added, the number of beneficiaries in Iran, the other Moslem country in which JDC maintains a sizable program, decreased from 21,150 in 1963 to 20,700 in 1964.

Mr. Leavitt pointed out in his report that some 75 percent of all JDC beneficiaries in North Africa live in Morocco. Of an estimated 80,000 Jews in that country in 1964, some 32,000 were receiving JDC aid. Here the picture was further complicated by the departure of important sections of the Jewish community which previously had no intention of leaving. They included middle class elements, civil servants, and professionals, people who contributed funds and leadership to the Jewish communal structure. Also among them were many communal workers and teachers who had been employed on various JDC-supported educational and welfare projects.

Another problem in North Africa is the growing number of destitute aged left behind when the younger members of the family depart. The problem has already necessitated the opening of several homes for the aged. The Jewish population of Tunisia was estimated at about 25,000 at the end of the year, with JDC aid going to over 9,200. JDC also provides assistance for 350 needy Jews in Algeria–10 percent of the remaining Jewish population in a country which only three years ago had between 120,000 and 130,000 Jews.


The report cited “an extraordinary revival” in Europe despite an increase in the number of those aided from 86,000 in 1963 to 89,000 in 1964. The increase was due mainly to the spurt in immigration of Tunisian Jews into France, and to the arrival of Jewish migrants from Eastern Europe. As part of this revival. Mr. Leavitt pointed to the widespread construction of community and youth centers, homes for the aged, children’s homes, hostels, summer camps, medical facilities, schools, synagogues and religious institutions. In all, there were some 269 building projects made possible in Western Europe during the past decade by the Claims Conference, JDC and other sources.

Italy became an important stop-over for emigrants from Eastern Europe en route to countries other than Israel. Since the processing takes several months, a substantial number of transients were forced to remain in Italy; there were 826 as of the end of 1964. Support for the transients is provided almost entirely by JDC which must also continue its aid to “older” refugees, the report stressed.

In Poland JDC provided assistance for 13,000 of the country’s 25,000 remaining Jews–an increase of 1,000 over 1963. This included almost 5,300 persons receiving regular relief–mainly invalids, aged and ill and their dependents. JDC also provided funds for the recently completed home for the aged in Warsaw and has pledged 15,000,000 zlotys ($208,350) toward construction of a cultural center.


The annual report also contained a tribute to the agency on its 50th anniversary by Sol Satinsky of Philadelphia, chairman of the JDC National Council. He lauded the continuous and generous support of American Jewry for the JDC and called it a reflection of the American Jewish heritage.

“We were then, we are now, of a generation which did not doubt its responsibility: we were, without questioning it, our brothers’ keepers,” he said. “Now comes a newer generation, without our memories, or with these memories greatly diffused. A newer generation, the product of another way of life, another world. A newer generation to whom we must increasingly entrust our responsibility for those in need, for those still in need,” he said.

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