American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), also commonly known as "The Joint" is an international relief organization operating in more than 70 countries across the globe. It offers help, support and relief to Jewish and non-Jewish communities that are in need of assistance. It also offers disaster relief and development assistance to affected people and communities.
JDC is a non-political humanitarian organization and the overseas branch of the North American Jewish community. Its headquarters is in New York although it operates across the globe. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has operated in 85 countries since it was established almost a century ago. Since it offers assistance and relief in affected countries, its presence in the different countries is temporary. Israel is the only country where it operates continuously since it was founded.
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee's commitment is manly to rescue those in need of rescuing, provide relief to those in need of assistance, provide ways to renew the Jewish community life and to support Israel in the many challenges its communities are facing today. JDC has been awarded the Israel Prize for Lifetime Achievement because of its contribution to the many communities in Israel. Although this commitment is generally for the Jewish communities across the globe, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee also offers them to non-Jewish communities and populations that are in need of them.
The works of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is centered on providing relief to the children and elderly population of Jews in the former Soviet Union, providing assistance to Jewish children at risk in Europe and Israel, helping Jews in the former Soviet Union rebuild self-sustaining communities and in helping the Jewish communities across Europe to develop. Funds for these works come from the donations to the JDC. Most come from the United Jewish Communities and individual donors from the United States.
The foremost mission of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee revolves around its 3Rs and I mission. The 3Rs are: Rescue of Jews at risk, Relief for Jews in need and Renewal of Jewish community life. Rescue of Jews is conducted using the expertise of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in crisis response. Together with the local agencies, JDC rescues those in need in the most effective manner and without delay. Relief is providing relief to improve the quality of life of the people in poor communities. Renewal efforts are aimed to renew the Jewish community lives in affected communities. "I" in the mission is Israel or partnership with the public organization so that together they can improve the lives of the numerous Jewish citizens in Israel. Although these are centered on Jewish communities, JDC also extends its arm to non-Jewish communities.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee also aims to establish strong and independent Jewish communities that are capable of sustaining and ensuring good Jewish life. Alongside this is its vision of creating an Israel that is capable of meeting all the material and social issues of its vulnerable communities and to have all the Jewish communities establish a strong connection with each other.
To achieve its objectives and mission, JDC has global programs that cover Africa, Asia, Europe, the former Soviet Union, Israel and Latin America. The programs in Latin America, Africa and Asia are mainly centered on providing the necessary resources, social services and support to the small Jewish populations in these countries in order to ensure strong Jewish future for the next Jewish generation in the said countries. In the former Soviet Union and Europe, the program is mainly on providing the basic human needs, such as food and medicine to the children and the elderly. In Israel, the program is a combination of crisis relief and providing the necessary services needed by the vulnerable populations.
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee was founded in the year 1914. At that time it was merely a distribution network for transferring funds to Palestine from the American Jews. This was brought about by the request for assistance of the then US Ambassador to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau to the American Jews to help the Jews in Palestine after World War I broke out. In answer to his call, Louis Marshall and Jacob Schiff, along with other Jewish leaders in the US were able to raise more than $50,000. JDC was then established to transfer the funds.
At that time, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee was deemed as a temporary organization. Once the need for the financial assistance for the Jews in Turkey is no longer needed, they planned to end its operation. However, as many Jewish communities started facing problems at the turn of the century around the world, the importance of the JDC became more apparent. It was not able to cease its operations, as more work was needed in support and aid of the Jewish communities across the globe.
During the 1920s and the 1930s the humanitarian works of the JDC was important in revitalizing many Jewish communities in Eastern Europe that were affected by the First World War and the Russian Revolution and communism. Similarly, during and after the Second World War, the JDC offered the needed assistance to the European Jews, from moving hundreds of thousands of Jews in Nazi occupied European territories to finding them safe countries to stay, to providing shelters and eventually in helping them rebuild their lives. The birth of the State of Israel eventually necessitated the JDC to center its attention to the many Jews who migrated to Israel, although the Jews from other countries were not forgotten. Since then the works of the JDC included social welfare and improving the lives of Jews across the globe.
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