Colonel Herbert Lehman, Chairman of the Reconstruction Committee of the Joint Distribution Committee, banker and philanthropist of New York, has issued a statement in which he outlines a plan for the continuation of the reconstruction work until now carried on by the J. D. C. A new body is proposed to consist of twenty members, representing the J.D.C. and the ICA, as well as other influential Jewish groups, in America and Europe. Colonel Lehman’s statement is as follows:
“When it became evident to the members of the Joint Distribution Committee that its direct reconstruction activities could not be continued indefinitely, it directed that a plan be developed which would insure the continuation of the work through other channels for a considerable further period, so far as possible, along the lines heretofore followed. The Reconstruction Committee, through its Chairman and its members, has, therefore, given the most careful consideration, covering a period of considerably more than a year, to the development of such a plan. The Committee has had countless meetings and conferences on the subject, while the Chairman and some of the other members of the Committee have consulted last summer and various times since then with many of the leading Hews abroad. Dr. Bernard Kahn, the Executive Director of the Joint Distribution Committee, and Dr. Joseph Rosen, in charge of reconstruction work in Russia, visited this country last autumn and the Committee has had the benefit of their advice and judgment on the subject of future reconstruction activities in Eastern and Central Europe. It is hoped that the find step in the very serious thought and study that has been given to this whole subject will be taken the early part of April. It is proposed to organize either under the laws of the United States, or of some country in Western Europe, a Foundation to which will be turned over, in due course, the assets of the Reconstruction Committee, save those which relate
to Palestine. Palestine is not included in the plan as other provision has been made for the reconstruction activities in that country. The Foundation will be administered by a board of 20 members, six of whom will be appointed by the Joint Distribution Committee and six by the Jewish Colonization Association; the remaining eight members will be invited by the Joint Distribution Committee to serve on the new Foundation, and will largely come from countries in Eastern Europe. The Directorate of the new Foundation will, in my opinion, be truly representative of the different elements that go to make up Jewish life here and abroad, so that all points of view will receive careful consideration and sympathetic hearing in the councils of the organization. Steps have been taken through the proposed charter and by-laws to insure that under all conditions and at all times the Directorate of the new organization will be really representative of Jewish life and philosophy.
The Joint Distribution Committee has unappropriated approximately $750,000., which eventually will be turned over to the new Foundation. In addition to this it will turn over a sum of about $300,000. previously appropriated and definitely ear-marked. This money can be used by the Foundation only for the specific purposes covered by the original J.D.C. appropriations; the remaining Reconstruction assets belonging to the Joint Distribution Committee, such as loans, advances, investments, equipment, etc., will be turned over to the Foundation for administration. Monies obtained through the realization of these assets will be used by the Foundation for further reconstruction activities. To reduce the risk from depreciation of foreign currencies, the funds will be retained in this country until they are actually required for the furtherance of reconstruction work abroad, when they will be turned over in instalments to the Foundation as needed.
The Foundation is pledged, through an agreement with the Joint Distribution Committee, to continue, so far as possible, the activities heretofore undertaken and carried on by the Joint Distribution Committee. The entire Directorate will meet from time to time at some convenient place in Europe. The continuing administration of the work will be in the hands of two Directors. Dr. Bernard Kahn, for at present Executive Director of the J.D.C., and Mr. L. Oungre, for many years connected with the Ica and at present its Director. These two Directors will report to an Executive Committee of five members. The headquarters of the organization, at least for the present, will be in Vienna in charge of Dr. Bernard Kahn.
I believe that the formation of this Foundation will insure for a very substantial period the continuation of a considerable amount of reconstruction work abroad. It will serve to enlist the interests of a large number of highly intelligent, disinterested, conscientious men who, provided they are put in possession of the necessary funds, will call on the work well.
I believe that this Foundation will serve a further great purpose. It can serve in future emergencies as the agency of any organizations created here for the collection of funds to be used for the relief of Jews abroad. The lack of the existence of such an organization has
frequently been felt in the past and has been the cause of the haphazard; hurried and temporary creation of the necessary agencies abroad, orhas necessitated the sending of representatives from this side. The formation of this really representative organization means that we will have a body of experienced men trained in social work, familiar with conditions and requirements, and who will, without difficulty, be able, as the opportunity or necessity arises, to carry on any task of economic or social reconstruction with which Jewry may be confronted.
I have every confidence that the new Foundation will be a mile-stone in the great work of economic reconstruction abroad, and one with which the Joint Distribution Committee and American Jewry may well be proud to he connected.”
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