JDC Archives Virtual Programs: Fall 2021

Please join us at our upcoming virtual programs!

The JDC Archives is offering an array of online public programs in the coming months. These events are listed below; please register for each one individually by clicking on its RSVP link. Recordings of past programs are available on the JDC Archives Youtube channel.


“For You Shall See The Land Before You, But You Shall Not Go There” (Deuteronomy 32:52):
The Role of JDC in the Rehabilitation of Cyprus Detainees 1946-1949

Monday, September 13, 2021
12:00pm–1:30pm (EDT)

During the summer of 1946, the British Mandate government in Palestine decided to intercept the Ma’apilim, illegal immigrants, and redirect them to internment camps in Cyprus. Conditions in the camps were very difficult, especially for women and children.

JDC, a large Jewish philanthropic organization, purportedly apolitical and neutral, received permission from the British authorities to work in the camps to supplement the meager assistance provided by the British. JDC staff provided for most of the detainees’ needs, including welfare and medical aid as well as extra food rations, and educational resources. JDC staff endeavored to meet the inmates’ cultural and religious needs as well.

The talk will focus on the story of the survivors who were interned in Cyprus who were so close to entering Israel and yet unable to reach it, bringing with them both traumatic personal histories and political aspirations. At the same time, it will show how JDC functioned as a neutral organization and the role it played in the refugees’ rehabilitation.

The lecture will be followed by a presentation by Sigal Harari Zonder on the art works and crafts created by the Jewish detainees during their time in the British detention camps in Cyprus. The works, most of which were created from available material such as empty tin cans, a soft piece of limestone, and tent lines, deal with the memory of the atrocities of the Holocaust and everyday life, as well as the detainees’ yearning for homes and families and their aspirations to build a new life in the Land of Israel.

Dr. Anat Kutner is the Director of JDC’s Jerusalem Archives. Previously, she was a project manager at the National Library of Israel, and later directed a department at the Yad Vashem Archives. She has a PhD in History from Bar Ilan University. Her research interests include the role of JDC and its work in the contemporary Jewish world and in the history of the State of Israel. JDC’s Jerusalem Archives houses the records of JDC’s work in Israel and of JDC overseas offices. This includes the records of JDC’s Operation in Cyprus.

Sigal Harari Zonder is a social worker who specializes in rehabilitation. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from Tel Aviv University. She curated the exhibition, “Unknown History – Works of Art Created by Jewish Illegal Immigrants in the British Detention Camps in Cyprus”, in Nicosia, Cyprus, in 2014, and the exhibition “Cyprus, the Art of Life, The Detention Camps, 1946-1949” at the Eretz Israel Museum, Tel Aviv, 2017.

The event is cosponsored by the Bintivey Ha’Apala Clandestine Jewish Immigration Information and Research Centre, which was founded in 2001 to document the personal story of each and every Jewish “clandestine immigrant.”



The JDC Archives and the Jewish Book Council invite you to a talk by David Nasaw
“Holocaust Survivors in Exile in Germany after World War II”

Monday, October 11, 2021
12:00pm–1:30pm (EDT)

The suffering of the Holocaust survivors did not end with the cessation of hostilities in Europe in May of 1945, as documents, correspondence, and reports from Germany in the JDC Archives make abundantly clear. A quarter of a million who had survived the death, concentration, and labor camps or spent the war years in hiding or in the Soviet Union would after the Nazi defeat would be forced to spend another three to five years in quasi-incarceration in displaced persons camps in Germany. While other eastern European displaced persons would eventually be resettled in lands suffering from postwar labor shortages, no nation, including the United States, was willing to accept more than a handful of Jewish survivors. When in June 1948, the United States Congress passed legislation permitting the immigration of displaced persons, the law was written in such a way as to deny visas to 90 percent of the Jewish displaced persons. Making full use of the voluminous and invaluable resources in the JDC Archives, David Nasaw, the author of The Last Million: Europe’s Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War, will tell the story of this tragic and too often overlooked chapter in Jewish history.

David Nasaw is the author of The Last Million: Europe’s Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War, published by Penguin Press in 2020; The Patriarch, selected by the New York Times as one of the 10 Best Books of the Year and a 2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Biography; Andrew Carnegie, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, the recipient of the New-York Historical Society’s American History Book Prize and a 2007 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Biography; and The Chief, which was awarded the Bancroft Prize for History and the J. Anthony Lukas Book Prize for Nonfiction. He is a past president of the Society of American Historians, and until 2019, he served as the Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Professor of History at the CUNY Graduate Center. Nasaw earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University.

The event is co-sponsored by The Jewish Book Council.

The Jewish Book Council is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and enriching the community through Jewish literature, strengthening connections to Jewish life and identity, and inspiring conversations between generations of readers. Learn more about its programs and resources here.

Purchase tickets for $10 by clicking the RSVP.