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American Jewry Decides to Continue Joint Distribution Committee Relief Work Abroad

May 14, 1929
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

American Jews will continue the reconstruction and relief work in Europe carried on through the Joint Distribution Committee during the past fourteen years and a new campaign for not less than $2,500,000 will be launched for the coming year to make the continuation of the work possible.

Resolutions to this effect were unanimously adopted by the four hundred delegates, comprising the leaders and workers of the United Jewish Campaign throughout the United States and Canada and members of the Joint Distribution Committee, who attended the three sessions of the national United Jewish Campaign conference held at the Biltmore Hotel in New York City Saturday night and all day Sunday.

A plan for reorganizing the Joint Distribution Committee along new lines, abolishing its former division into three constituent committees and providing a method for admitting new blood into the leadership, was adopted on the recommendation of the Executive Committee of the Joint Distribution Committee, presented to the conference in a resolution proposed by Louis Marshall.

Under the plan adopted, the Joint Distribution Committee is to be governed by a Council and a Board of Directors or an Executive Committee. The Council is to consist of not less than 150 members and not more than 250, and is to be recruited from among those who have gained distinction in the service of the relief work and other leaders who will be found most fitted for rendering the voluntary service required. The Council, in turn will choose from among itself a Board of Directors of thirty, otherwise to be designated as the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee is to be composed of three classes of membership, each class containing ten. One class will be elected for a period of one year, another for two years and the third for three years. In this manner it is provided that the guiding body of the Joint Distribution Committee will retain the experience and counsel of those tried in the work and simultaneously provide for the infusion of new blood into the leadership.

To complete the plan and to work out the necessary by-laws, as well as to put it into operation when the time is found ripe, the conference, at the suggestion of Mr. Marshall, embodied in the resolution adopted, empowered the chairman of the session, Justice Joseph M. Proskauer, to appoint a committee of eighteen. The committee of eighteen, as appointed by the chairman, consists of the following: Louis Marshall and Felix M. Warburg, associate chairmen; Dr. Cyrus Adler, Philadelphia; Edward Baker, Cleveland; Louis J. Borinstein, Indianapolis; David M. Bressler, New York; David A. Brown, Detroit; James H. Becker, Chicago; J. K. Hexter, Texas; Harold Hirsch, Atlanta; Alexander Kahn, New York; Louis Kirstein, Boston; Albert H. Lieberman, Philadelphia; Edwin B. Meissner. St. Louis; James N. Rosenberg, New York; Ben Selling, Portland, Orc-

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gon; Hugh Grant Strauss, Brooklyn; Peter Wiernik, New York.

Mr. Marshall, reminding the conference that a suggestion for evolving the new plan was made by the Executive Committee at the United Jewish Camjaign conference held in Chicago in 1927, explained that the adoption of this measure has become necessary since it was felt that the conditions which existed in the period of emergency in 1914 when the Joint Distribution Committee was created no longer exist and that the method of operation then adopted has now become obsolete. The new plan is intended to substitute the old method by a more orderly procedure. The existence of the three parent bodies of the Joint Distribution Committee, the American Jewish Relief Committee, the Central Relief Committee and the People’s Relief Committee, is no longer a necessity and instead a joint body, representing all elements of American Jewry is to take their place. It was understood that in selecting the membership for the new Council and Executive Committee, consideration will be paid to the need of an ail-embracing representation.


Although a discussion was called for, no debate took place, resolutions being adopted unanimously without a dissenting voice.

The Sunday afternoon session was occupied with the addresses of Justice Proskauer, who presided. Louis Marshall, who outlined the plan of future action, and David A. Brown, who directed his remarks to the assembled delegates, urging them to pursue a vigorous course in the collection of the outstanding $5,000,000 pledges and in the undertaking of the new campaign when it will be launched. A special resolution, moved by Mr. Marshall, was adopted expressing the appreciation and affection of the conference for its national chairman, David A. Brown, in recognition of his zeal and untiring devotion in the campaign which resulted in the raising of over $19,000,000, of which $5,000,000 is outstanding in pledges.

The new campaign will not be announced before a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Joint Distribution Committee will have taken place, following the return to the United States of Felix M. Warburg, chairman of the J. D. C. and Dr. Cyrus Adier, who are now on their way back from Palestine. A message was read from Mr. Warburg, in which the work of the J. D. C. was reviewed and an indication of the future plans given. The Joint Distribution Committee ought to get an experssion of opinion concerning its work from the conference in session and a mandate for new action, Mr. Warhurg stated in his message. The amounts which are to be raised in future years are not to be of the size of the past collections, but a sufficient sum must he made available for continuing the relief work whenever an emergency arises and for the cultural and religious agencies created or stimulated by the Joint Distribution Committee in the European countries affected by the World War and its aftermath. The resolution foreshadowing the new campaign drew attention to the fact that since the beginning of its work the Joint Distribution Committee was directly and indirectly instrumental in raising the unparalleled sum of over $100,000,000.


The conference was opened Saturday night in the ballroom of the Biltmore Hotel and was presided over by Acting Governor of the State of New York, Col. Herbert H. Lehman, vice-chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee and chairman of the Reconstruction Committee. In his opening address he gave a summary of the work done and dwelt in particular on the work of the cooperative loan associations which were developed in Russia, Poland, Lithuxnia and other countries with the aid of the J. D. C. He was followed by an extensive address by James N. Rosenberg, vice-chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee, on “The Joint Distribution Committee-An Epic on Rehabilitation.” Paul Baerwald, treasurer of the Joint Distribution Committee, submitted the financial report, and Joseph C. Hyman, secretary of the Joint Distribution Committee, and executive secretary of the United Jewish Campaign, described at length the activities of the Committee in the various countries and related his observations during his recent visit to Russia and other East European countries.


The presentation of $332,000, representing collections in various regions of the country, including $100,000 from Eastern Pennsylvania, was the feature of the Sunday morning session, held in the West Room of the Hotel Biltmore, under the chairmanship of Albert H. Lieberman, chairman of the Eastern Pennsylvania Zone. A report on the status of collections was submitted by Marcy I. Berger, national secretary of the United Jewish Campaign. Of the $19,700,000 pledged, $14,475,000 have been collected. Of the 48 states in the Union. Rhode Island was the only state whose Jewish communities have not contributed toward the United Jewish Campaign.

A lengthy discussion developed as to the course to be followed in cases where pledgees fail to meet their obligations. Jonah J. Goldstein, attorney for the United Jewish Campaign in New York City and vice-chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee; David B. Bnessler, acting chairman of the New York City campaign, David A. Brown and F. B. Meisner of St. Louis, spoke on the subject. The concensus of opinion was that the cause of Jewish relief work will suffer nothing if legal action will be sought against those who fail to meet their pledges and who are in a postion to make them good. Experiences along these lines were exchanged by the various state chairmen.

A testimonial in appreciation of his leadership was presented to David A. Brown by Albert H. Lieberman in behalf of 1,000 workers of the Eastern Pennsylvania Zone of the U. J. C.

Recipients of Distinguished Service Testimonials were the guests of honor at a luncheon held in the Music Room.

At the afternoon sessions the names of thirty-two men, active in the U. J. C. work, who died since the Chicago conference were read, the conference honoring their memory by rising.

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