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Dc Opens New Israel Headquarters As Symbol of Centrality of Jerusalem to Jewish People

June 30, 1980
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) formally opened its new Israel headquarters here today. It was described by Ralph 1. Goldman, executive vice president of the world-wide social service organization as “a positive statement for us of the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish people.”

JDC president Donald M. Robinson referred to the new headquarters complex, on what is now being known as “JDC Hill,” as “visible evidence of the bonds that join us and of our common destiny,” Premier Menachem Begin who was supposed to have headed a group of Israeli dignitaries to the inaugural ceremonies, was unable to attend because of pressing political matters. He sent his wife, Aliza, as his personal representative. His message, prepared for the occasion, was read by Welfare Minister Israel Katz.

In it, the Premier recalled the JDC’s work in pre-war Europe, which he had known “at first hand.” He noted that he follows closely the JDC’s work in Israel, “especially with the aged and handicapped and with community centers.” The premier’s message also mentioned the JDC’s role in the past-war “bricha” — the efforts to move Jewish concentration camp survivors through war-ravaged Europe to Palestine before the State of Israel was founded.

Katz also thanked the JDC for its efforts in Israel, speaking on his own behalf and for the government. After the inaugural ceremonies, President Yitzhak Navon and his wife, Ophira, hosted the guests at a festive reception. Mrs. Navon noted that as a child psychologist by profession she had worked for many years in JDC projects involving hard-of-hearing pre-school children.

In addition to Katz, the government was represented by Health Minister Eliezer Shostack. Jack Weiler, chairman of the JDC board and a veteran American Jewish leader, affixed a mezuzah to the door of the headquarters building, flanked by Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovavdia Yosef and Aharon Greenbaum, head of the JDC’s cultural activities in Israel.


The inauguration marked the assumption of the office of director of the JDC in Israel by Zev Hymowitz, succeeding Harold Trobe who has retired and will return to the U.S.

Robinson noted that the JDC has invested more than a quarter billion dollars in programs in Israel since 1914, the year it was established to meet the needs of Jews in Palestine. This was port of the JDC’s total expenditures of $1.2 billion over the years, Robinson said.

The new Israel headquarters will house all of the agency’s administrative apparatus along with its Brookdale Institute for Gerontology, “Eshel,” the association for development and planning services for the aged and its other programs in Israel. The low, modern-style building was designed by Yoacov Rechter and is located at the entrance to the Hebrew University campus at Givat Ram.

Goldman observed that “It is hard to tell from looking at this building all the activities that go on here, activities affecting all parts of the population all over the country. In that sense, it is a reflection of the JDC and its work in Jewish communities around the world,” he said.


Of a world-wide budget of $25.5 million this year, $10.7 million will be spent in Israel, the executive vice president said. JDC in Israel is involved in more than 100 different programs and in cooperation with the authorities and with voluntary groups, was a catalyst for social betterment in Israel, he said. Robinson said the Israel-JDC relationship was helping place Israel’s achievements in the realm of social services “high as models of man’s humanity to man.”

Participants in the ceremonies included the JDC’s board, its Israel area committee, headed by Patricia Gantz of New York City and Barbie Weinberg of Los Angeles and delegates of the Jewish Agency Board of Governors meeting here, including United Jewish Appeal leaders.

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