JDC Executive Reports Agency Diverted $400,000 to Meet Emergency European Needs

The executive vice chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee reported here today that the agency had to divert some $400,000 from its programs to meet the emergency needs created by the Czech crisis and the sprut in Jewish emigration from Poland because of the anti-Semitic campaign there. Samuel L. Haber spoke at the closing session of the 54th annual meeting of the JDC. The 400 Jewish community leaders from the United States and Canada attending the session were also addressed by Mitchell I. Ginsberg, Human Resources Administrator of New York City and a top member of the Lindsay Administration, who said it was in the self-interest of the Jewish community to support an accommodation with underprivileged minorities in the urban conflict.

Mr. Haber said that the additional burdens placed on JDC by events in Eastern Europe and elsewhere resulted in some programs being “curtailed, postponed or eliminated.” Despite this, he said, JDC provided some form of health, welfare, educational and rehabilitation service for more than 350,000 needy Jews in 27 countries in 1968 at a cost of $22,842,000. He said the number aided included 93,000 in Israel, over 50,000 Jews in Arab and Moslem countries, 73,000 in Western Europe, about 40,000 in Rumania and Yugoslavia and another 5,000 in widely scattered areas such as Australia, India, China and Latin America.

He said that in Europe the two major areas of JDC operations this year were France and Rumania, while Vienna had become the focal point of Jewish refugees who left Czechoslovakia after the Soviet invasion last August. He said about 4,000 Czech Jews crossed the border, most of them into Vienna en route to other countries. About 3,000 were aided by JDC.

Mr. Haber reported that last summer’s strikes and riots in France resulted in price rises and unemployment which required JDC aid to about 50,000 needy Jews, most of them newcomers from North Africa and Eastern Europe. The support they received was mainly welfare aid, job-finding and housing.

In Rumania, where JDC completed its first full year of operations after an 18 year absence, the agency provided cash relief for 4500 of the neediest among the 100,000 member Jewish community. Aid also included special winter grants for 6,000, food parcels for several thousand as well as Passover aid to over 6,000 and kosher canteens serving another 1500 persons, Mr. Haber said.

Referring to North Africa, the JDC official said that his agency was most active in Tunisia and Morocco. In the latter country the Jewish population has dwindled to 45,000-50,000, “less than one-twenty-fifth its size a decade ago.” He said JDC supported programs aided about 20,000, mostly school children who received food, medical care and periodic clothing. In Tunisia the Jewish population has shrunken to about 16,000 and close to half are recipients of JDC aid. In Iran, JDC aided about 20,000 needy Jews, mostly children and teen-agers.

Mr. Haber said that JDC’s major operation in Israel was Malben, an institution run jointly with the Jewish Agency to provide health, welfare and rehabilitation services for about 40,000 aged, ill and handicapped immigrants. “Care of the aged is high on Malben’s list of priorities since its inception and accounted for a third of the $6.5 million disbursed in 1968,” Mr. Haber said. He reported that Malben operates 12 institutions for the aged with a bed capacity of 2,780. JDC aid in Israel also includes support of 121 yeshivot with an enrollment of 17,000 students and support of the ORT vocational training programs.

Mr. Ginsberg, speaking on one of the most urgent problems facing American cities, warned that poor people and minority groups have been kept too long from a fair share of control of community institutions and are now demanding participation. He said, “When a society is gripped by divisiveness, Jews always take the biggest beating. Jews prosper in societies that give broad opportunities to all groups–when a society is repressive, Jews are among the most oppressed.”

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