NEW YORK (Jul. 14)
The Joint Distribution Committee helped during 1973–its 60th year–about 396,000 needy Jews “from a handful in China to 114,000 in Israel and 260,000 in Western and Eastern Europe and the Arab and Moslem countries.” Samuel Haber, JDC executive vice-chairman also said JDC expenditures for 1973 total $29,624,000. The largest single item was $8.6 million for Israel, an increase of one million dollars over outlays in Israel during 1972. Expenditures for North Africa were $4,117,000, and for Europe, $5,422,300.
Edward Ginsberg, JDC Chairman, reported, in a historical perspective, that during its 60 years, the JDC had distributed more than one billion dollars in aid. He praised the generosity of American and Canadian and Jews of other countries, and added that the sum expended was “steeped in tragedy.” The historical review is contained in a booklet, “Sixty Years of Service,” which also has a foreword by Jack D. Weller, chairman of the JDC national council, and the Haber report.
Ginsberg said the period following World War II, from 1945 to 1950, posed the greatest challenges to the JDC. Expenditures for that period averaged about $60 million annually. The creation of Israel provided new opportunities and responsibilities, Ginsberg said.
From 1951 to the present, he said, the JDC spent $572 million rebuilding the Jewish communities of Europe, organizing vast health and welfare programs in Moslem countries and creating a comprehensive social service system for newcomers to Israel. At the peak of its activity in Israel, the JDC had built or converted 23 homes and hospitals for 5,000 elderly people.
SOME 45,000 AIDED IN ISRAEL
Over 45,000 people were assisted in 1973 by both direct and indirect programs of JDC/Malben in Israel, Haber reported. Of these, 4,300 were cared for in homes for the aged, hospitals or other direct services. JDC provided financial subsidies to over 150 yeshivot aiding about 35,500 students and their dependents. Over 44,000 Israelis were enrolled in ORT vocational training programs during the year, subsidized by the JDC. The total unduplicated number aided by JDC in Israel in 1973 was about 114,000, Haber said.
A major development in care of the aged in 1973, Mr. Haber reported, was the establishment of the Brookdale Institute of Gerontology and Adult Human Development in Israel. The program includes a research center and demonstration units for infirm aged and well aged. In addition to programs for the aged, JDC expanded its aid to subsidized services on behalf of handicapped children, services for the blind and for mental health programs in Israel.
DIMINISHING JDC ROLE IN EUROPE
The growing strength and stability of Jewish communities in Western Europe made possible a gradually diminishing role by JDC, Haber reported. France alone of the Western European countries requires continued aid, mainly because of the large numbers of Jewish newcomers who have not yet been fully, integrated. JDC funds helped to support a number of homes for children and adolescents, medical services and cultural and educational institutions. In all, Haber said, over 56,300 Jews in France were aided by various programs supported in part by JDC funds.
In Italy and Austria JDC expenditures were confined almost exclusively to care and maintenance of transmigrants, about 1,500 in the course of the year. Most of the transmigrants were Russian Jews en route to countries other than Israel. In addition there were about 140 Jews from other Eastern European countries being cared for by JDC at the same time.
He noted that JDC’s financial burden was eased by the U.S. Government, which has provided funds for the care and maintenance of the Russian transmigrants. In Rumania JDC subsidizes a network of services aiding about 16,000 of the country’s 90,000 Jews. Expenditures totaled $2,200,000 in 1973. In Yugoslavia the JDC funded programs aiding about 10 percent of the country’s 7,000 Jews; a 110-bed home for the aged in Zagreb, monthly welfare grants to about 250 sick and aged and otherwise handicapped people, two kindergartens, a summer camp and various cultural activities.
The biggest program for Eastern Europe. Haber said, was a special program called Relief-in-Transit, which provided material assistance to approximately 138,000 needy Jews who had no access to regular JDC country programs. The Relief-in-Transit program amounted to almost 15 percent of JDC’s global budget, $4,350,000 in 1973. “This sum is in addition to expenditures of $5,422,300 in Europe in 1973.” Haber noted.
SITUATION IN NORTH AFRICA, MIDEAST
Reporting on the situation in North Africa and the Middle East, Haber noted that the Yom Kippur War increased the feelings of insecurity among the 115,000 Jews remaining in the area. In Iraq and Syria conditions were worsened when hostilities erupted. Increased tensions were also noted in Tunisia and even in Iran, which is generally hospitable to its Jewish population. About 4,000 Jews left Morocco in 1973, reducing the Jewish population to between 20,000 and 25,000 at the end of 1973. About half of the remaining Jews benefitted from one or another of the JDC-supported services, most of them children and teenagers attending JDC-supported schools, Haber reported.
More than 19,000 of the 75,000 Jews in Iran received some form of JDC assistance, most of them students in Jewish and community schools, and ORT vocational training programs. There is also a medical program, supplementary feeding for school children, meals-on-wheels services for the homebound and milk distribution centers for needy mothers.
In his foreword, entitled “Another Milestone,” Weiler paid tribute to the devotion and generous support provided by the American Jewish community and said that they could take “justifiable pride in our achievements through the decades,” He expressed hope for a world in which there would no longer be a need for services such as the JDC provides. “But,” he concluded, “as long as there are Jews in need anywhere in the world, we can be grateful for the continued existence of the JDC and rest secure in the knowledge that, with our continued support, they will be cared for.”