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JDC Releases First In-depth Study of Operations, Philosophy, Future

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the “temporary” rescue and relief organization that has assisted millions of men, women and children throughout the world during its 62-year history, has completed its first formal, In-depth study of operations and philosophy. Jack D. Weiler, JDC chairman, announced today.

“The JDC undertook the first major study in its history.” Weiler commented, “in order to update its operation to make it as compatible as possible with the needs of the last quarter of the Twentieth Century, and to help it meet its historic objectives in an effective and efficient manner.”

The report. “Compassion in Action: A Continuing Task,” examines and makes recommendations on almost every aspect of JDC–its governance, philosophy, purposes and programs; its administrative set-up, staff relations and personnel practices; its financial resources and its budgetary provisions. The report was prepared by a consultant team headed by Henry L. Zucker, Executive Vice-President Emeritus of the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland. The analysis was evaluated by a lay study committee under the chairmanship of Judge Nochem S. Winnet of Philadelphia.

SIX MAJOR RECOMMENDATIONS

Six major policy and program recommendations are incorporated in the report reflecting the evolution of the JDC from a simple relief agency to a multi-service agency–changing as needs dictated: the JDC should now be considered a permanent agency; develop a long-term planning capability for potential emergencies, an important function not now adequately implemented and JDC’s “antennas” should be up at all times to anticipate probable Jewish trouble spots; and play a major role in helping strengthen Jewish community infrastructures outside the United States.

Also, JDC programs should continue to be transferred to local community auspices as quickly as is consistent with responsible functioning; JDC’s role in the development of Jewish professional and lay leadership outside the United States should be expanded, and global Jewish leaders should be associated with its work; and JDC’s professional staff should be strengthened in order to carry out both its traditional and its new and expanded functions with sufficient expertise.

ANALYSIS OF CURRENT PROGRAMS

Included in the study are detailed analyses of current JDC programs in Israel, Iran, Rumania, North Africa and Western Europe, and its relationships with HIAS and ORT. Among the recommendations are:

*In Israel, priority should be given in future planning to completing the programs undertaken to develop certain service areas at a reasonable level of adequacy (i.e., care of the aged, chronic illness and handicapped children); and priority should be given to manpower programs in the human services.

*In Iran where the Jewish community has benefitted from the generally improved economy, the JDC should work with the existing Jewish communal leadership to bring about a gradual transfer of responsibility for the operation of community programs to local sponsorship.

*In Rumania the JDC maintains an extensive program, mainly for elderly survivors of the Holocaust, through the Federation of Jewish Communities. Since the Federation is officially recognized by the government as a religious community, it is important to strengthen the religious-cultural identity of the Federation and thereby assure the continuation of JDC’s vital health and welfare programs in that country.

*In North Africa, where there is little hope for the remaining Jewish communities, detailed consultations are needed to meet the changing needs of a dwindling population.

A number of specific recommendations dealt with the governance of the JDC at both the volunteer and professional levels, so that a broader base of understanding and support could be developed within the American Jewish community, present decision-making systems could be streamlined and simplified and younger professionals attracted into career positions with the organization. The study-was released prior to the JDC’s 62nd annual meeting which will be held at the New York Hilton Hotel Wednesday.

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