Ellen Lewis and her family were German Jews who fled to Shanghai in 1939. Ellen witnessed JDC’s work providing shelter and much-needed services, and funding programs and facilities in a city of some 18,000 Jewish refugees. After the war, JDC supplied food packages with Army rations and special provisions for the holidays. Conditions improved for her family, and Ellen found work at the Joint.

Ellen’s mother died in Shanghai and was buried there, and the rest of the family left in 1947 on a troop transport, the S.S. General Meiggs. Blankets stamped with the JDC logo were distributed to passengers on the ship and were treasured by Ellen for the rest of her life. Ellen married a former Shanghailander in 1948 and continued to work for JDC in New York, most notably as secretary to senior executive Herb Katzki, until 1985. She passed away on June 10, 2010.

    “I will never forget your help.”

    Ellen Lewis

    Letter to JDC, 1993

    In a 1993 letter to JDC, Ellen wrote: “…I still have these two Army/Navy blankets which the AJJDC gave us… At the beginning of every summer they are sent to the cleaners and then put away in mothballs. Every winter they are taken out and kept in reserve – no longer on active duty, so to speak, but available. Over the years, as one usually does, we have given away clothing and other items. But we never parted with these blankets. At the risk of seeming overly sentimental – the blankets still represent security and caring. As long as he lived, my husband was grateful to the Joint Distribution Committee for its assistance during the dark times in Shanghai, and I, too, will never forget your help.”