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An Early Call to Action

1920 document appealed for aid for Jews in Palestine and Eastern Europe suffering from hunger, dislocation, and the violent excesses of the World War I period.

One of many unique archival records from JDC’s early years, this document, dated December 1916, is signed by Henry Morgenthau and co-signed by Jacob Schiff, Nathan Straus, and Louis Marshall – all prominent leaders of the American Jewish community and members of JDC. Responding to appeals for aid for Jews in Palestine and Eastern Europe suffering from hunger, dislocation, and the violent excesses of the World War I period, American Jewry mobilized to organize relief committees and raise funds for the needy.

On December 21, 1916, a mass meeting was held at Carnegie Hall under the auspices of the three constituent committees of JDC to launch a $10 million campaign. These three groups were the Central Relief Committee, established by Orthodox Jews; the American Jewish Relief Committee, created by Reform Jews primarly of German Descent; and the socialist People’s Relief Committee of America.

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