A Tour Guide to a Century of Global Relief Work

Yehuda Bauer provides a masterful overview of JDC’s historic legacy from its founding to the present.

Professor Yehuda Bauer, a world-renowned historian and Holocaust scholar, has chronicled JDC’s work in several important books, including My Brother’s Keeper: A History of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and American Jewry and the Holocaust: The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.  Prof. Bauer was invited to deliver a lecture on JDC’s history for a global staff training program.In the talk, he describes the historic breadth and diversity of JDC’s global service work during the past 100 years.

A group of Romanian child refugees arrive in Palestine, 1944.

Professor Bauer’s lecture is available on the JDC Archives website, divided into four chapters.

  • The Establishment of JDC: JDC’s founding at the outset of World War I to raise needed funds for Jewish communities in Palestine cut off by the war’s outbreak from their traditional sources of aid in Europe.
  • JDC and the Soviet Union: The establishment of Agro-Joint, an agricultural endeavor in the 1920s and 1930s to settle Jews as farmers in Ukraine and the Crimea.
  • JDC in Poland and Germany: JDC’s work in the interwar period and its extensive work in the Displaced Persons camps after World War II, as the first American non-profit organization to receive official approval from Allied forces to work in the camps.
  • JDC as a Global Organization: JDC’s ongoing relief and renewal efforts in other parts of the world.

This lecture serves as a comprehensive introduction to the milestones in world and Jewish history that JDC encountered and responded to in its 100-year history and demonstrates how the lessons learned in earlier operations continue to be relevant for JDC’s ongoing relief work today.

(A comprehensive list of Professor Bauer’s publications is available here.)

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