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Traversing a Minefield to Escape Communist Hungary

Traversing a Minefield to Escape Communist HungaryApr 1, 2015    “[We] were very thankful [you gave] us a hand to start a new life in a new country!”     -Eva Kolosvary-Stupler in a March 2015 letter to JDC With the outbreak of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, some 170,000 refugees, among them more than 18,000 Jews, fled across the border to Austria. Eva Kolosvary-Stupler, then Eva Kolosvary, and her late husband, Paul Kolosvary, both Holocaust survivors, decided to make the arduous trek to Austria when the Soviet tanks entered Budapest in October 1956. Eva and Paul escaped Budapest into...

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“Conditions Terrifying Utterly Hopeless”: A 1933 Telegram

“Conditions Terrifying Utterly Hopeless”: A 1933 TelegramMar 26, 2015 In 1933, Rabbi Irving Reichert, a prominent San Francisco rabbi, conducted a week-long study trip of the status of German Jewry at the behest of JDC’s German Relief Campaign, which was spearheading a campaign to raise $2 million to aid the beleaguered German Jews. His study surveyed conditions in Berlin, Frankfurt, and Baden-Baden, and included interviews with Jewish refugees in London, Paris, and Prague. On June 27, Rabbi Reichert sent a cable to Rabbi Jonah B. Wise, rabbi of Manhattan’s Central Synagogue and a prominent leader of Reform Judaism, who...

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Festive Purim Sketches in an Israel Old Age Home

Festive Purim Sketches in an Israel Old Age HomeMar 3, 2015   For the 200 residents of an old age home in Netanya, Israel, Purim 1955 was not only an opportunity for gifting food baskets, reciting the megillah and having a celebratory feast. It was an opportunity for the seniors, many of whom were refugees from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, to perform Purim sketches for the medical and social welfare professionals who served them. The old age home was a program of MALBEN, a JDC-supported network of institutions and services for handicapped, elderly and chronically ill...

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President Woodrow Wilson and JDC

President Woodrow Wilson and JDCFeb 13, 2015 ”We must try to visualize the true significance of the facts that three million children are undernourished; that six million men and women are utterly dependent upon outside aid for the preservation of life; that hundreds of thousands of our fellow beings are stricken with typhoid fever…” – President Woodrow Wilson to Felix M. Warburg, Chairman of the JDC Board, on May 27, 1920 In the aftermath of World War I, JDC found itself addressing tremendous needs in Europe and Palestine. JDC’s response included developing child care programs for orphans, vocational and...

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Citibank, a Mysterious Bank Account, and a Hunt in the Archives

Citibank, a Mysterious Bank Account, and a Hunt in the ArchivesJan 6, 2015       When Herbert Block received a call from Citibank in 2004, it wasn’t about his credit card bill or personal banking. It was about two mysterious 70-year old dormant Jewish organizational bank accounts from Lithuania with no owner, no claimant, and no heir in sight. Citibank maintained the New York accounts, with a balance of approximately $60,000, but had seen no activity in the accounts for many years. Citibank approached The Holocaust Claims Processing Office (HCPO), a division of the New York State Banking...

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“Whence Shall Come Our Aid?” JDC’s Early Fundraising Campaigns

“Whence Shall Come Our Aid?” JDC’s Early Fundraising CampaignsJan 5, 2015 JDC recently commemorated its centennial, marking its founding in August 1914 at the outset of the turmoil of World War I. Half of the world’s Jews, both in Ottoman-ruled Palestine and in Eastern Europe, were caught in the line of fire and cut off from their traditional sources of aid in Europe. In order to maximize resources and to transfer aid to vulnerable communities as rapidly and efficiently as possible, three separate fundraising organizations in New York—the American Jewish Relief Committee, the Central Relief Committee, and the Jewish...

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Harry Kamel: A Story of Gratitude

Harry Kamel: A Story of GratitudeDec 1, 2014   Many of us have given $36 gifts. To a bat mitzvah girl, to a synagogue fundraiser, to plant trees in Israel. An $18 gift is considered a chai (life) gift, for in Jewish tradition the numerical value assigned to the word chai is 18. A lucky number among our people, gifts in the multiple of 18 have become quite popular. But when Harry Kamel wrote his $36 check to JDC on July 2, 2014, it wasn’t just another contribution filed by our accounting department. It was a gesture in the...

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Memories from Aden

Memories from AdenOct 8, 2014   “Hey, that’s me,” went the surprised cry breaking the quiet of the JDC Archives in Jerusalem. Archives staff looked up from their work and rested their eyes on the elderly researcher sitting at the computer. A crowd formed, and Bat-Chayil Yosef began her story. As a young woman, she emigrated from Aden to Israel. In 1949, at the age of 19, Yosef  was sent by WIZO , the Women’s International Zionist Organization, to Aden to the “Hashed” refugee camp, also known as  ”Camp Geulah”, to provide healthcare support for the Yemenite Jews in...

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