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JDC Moves Its Israel Headquarters from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

The Joint Distribution Committee has officially moved its Israel headquarters from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. A ceremony marking the opening of the new headquarters last Thursday was attended by Robert L. Goldman, the former associate director of the JDC’s Malben program in Israel, who on that day also officially became the JDC’s executive vice-chairman. Also attending were 70 JDC employes who had been dismissed because of the move.

Mayor Teddy Kollek cited the transfer of the JDC headquarters as a rare example of a non-Zionist organization’s sensitivity to the importance of Jerusalem as the site for major Jewish organizations. Kollek made the same point yesterday to the Zionist General Council when he noted that the Reform movement plans to move its international headquarters to the Israeli capital.

Noting that “eventually the political offensive against Israel will culminate in Jerusalem,” Kollek declared: “My request is that the Zionist movement and the government of Israel follow these non-Zionist organizations” by moving their offices now located in other cities to Jerusalem.

PART OF A PROCESS

The JDC move is part of the process of transferring to other bodies its direct activities connected with Malben, the social welfare agency it helped found 26 years ago and which it has supported. Malben’s Tel Aviv headquarters were closed Dec. 31 and the building was sold to the Jewish Agency. The proceeds will be used to supplement the JDC’s health and welfare programs in Israel.

Goldman said the move will enable the JDC to reduce appreciably its expenditures for personnel and administration since the new Jerusalem office would require less than a third of the personnel employed by the Tel Aviv Malben office.

JDC operates 60 different programs in Israel, mostly through the Malben and Eshel organizations for the welfare of the aged. It also supports the Brookdale Institute of Gerontology and Adult Human Development in Israel which it established last year in Jerusalem with the aid of the government and a $5 million grant from the Brookdale Foundation in the U.S. This is done with a budget of some $10 million a year.

BETTER USE OF FACILITIES

In an interview with the JTA, Goldman said that once the transfer of Malben to public institutions is completed, and once the Eshel program is operating, there will be a complete infrastructure of communal services for the aged as well as instructional services to train the professionals to work in these institutions. This, he promised, would happen within the next five years.

This was the basis for the establishment of the Dr. Joseph J. Schwartz Training Center for Community Center Directors. Goldman believes in helping the needy to help themselves. Thus, he not only encourages the development of the skill that would provide better community services, but also favors better use of existing services.

“There are many facilities in the country which can be used for multiple use,” he said, “such as youth centers, schools and even synagogues. No country is that rich that it can afford keeping those expensive institutions empty part of the day; If they serve for children in the afternoon, they can serve for grownups in the morning.”

Goldman is leaving soon for New York, where he will assume responsibility for the JDC’s worldwide operations. His first official act was to open the Jerusalem office, but from now on it will be work rather than ceremonies.

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