History of JDC: Introduction
Founded during World War I, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) was the first Jewish organization in the United States to dispense large-scale funding for international relief. World War I left in its wake the seeds of many additional catastrophes—pogroms, epidemics, famine, revolution, and economic ruin—and JDC played a major role in sustaining Jews in Palestine and rebuilding the devastated communities of Eastern Europe.
JDC’s relief activities, emigration aid, and rescue operations were critical following the Nazi rise to power and the outbreak of World War II. After the war, JDC mobilized to support and resettle survivors, help reconstruct the remnant communities of Europe, create a network of social welfare services in the fledgling State of Israel, set up an extensive assistance program for Jews in North Africa and the Muslim world, and provide discreet relief behind the Iron Curtain. With the fall of Communism, JDC established cultural and educational programs to foster a sense of Jewish identify in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union and developed a broad welfare system for needy elderly and holocaust survivors.
Active today in more than 70 countries, JDC and its partners work to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger, create lasting connections to Jewish life, and help Israel overcome the social challenges of its most vulnerable citizens, both Jewish and non-Jewish. JDC’s reach extends beyond the global Jewish community by providing non-sectarian disaster relief and long-term development assistance worldwide.