JDC Archives Virtual Programs: Spring-Summer 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.


Justice Pursued: The Struggle for Holocaust Justice in the Jewish Displaced Persons Community of Föhrenwald, 1945-1957
Thursday, May 13, 2021
2:00pm–3:30pm (EDT)

For many survivors, the struggle for Holocaust justice was a decades-long battle beginning in the earliest days of liberation. The majority of Jewish survivors attempting to start life anew remained for years in postwar Europe, and specifically in postwar Germany, in displaced persons (DP) camps. As survivors unable or unwilling to repatriate poured into the U.S. occupation zone, Bavaria became home to a diverse Jewish DP community that had survived the Holocaust under disparate circumstances. Using materials from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Archives and the JDC Archives, this lecture explores how Jewish DPs living just outside of Munich in Föhrenwald, the longest-running Jewish DP camp in postwar Europe, conceived of and acted upon justice for the harms they and their loved ones suffered during the Holocaust.

Alexandra Kramen is a Claims Conference fellow and Ph.D. candidate in History at Clark University’s Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Worcester, Massachusetts. She is the recipient of the 2020-2021 Fred and Ellen Lewis/JDC Archives Fellowship. Kramen is using the JDC Archives to examine how relationships and interactions between Jewish DPs and JDC operatives in DP Camp Föhrenwald shaped DPs’ notions of, and actions taken toward, justice.



The JDC in Post-Stalinist Poland, 1957-1960s
Thursday, May 27, 2021
12:00pm–1:30pm (EDT)

Drawing from JDC archival materials, Frankee Lyons will examine JDC operations in Poland from 1957 to the early 1960s. In December 1949, at the height of Stalinism, JDC was expelled from Poland. As a result of post-Stalinist liberalization, JDC was invited to return in 1957 to aid Jewish repatriates from the Soviet Union. Then, during the “Gomułka period” when many young Polish Jews were expelled, JDC assisted with their emigration from Poland to Israel. This lecture will discuss the role of JDC in Poland in this period, with special emphasis on JDC’s relationship with the Polish state as well as the connections between the JDC and local Polish Jewish leadership.

Frankee Lyons is a PhD candidate in Modern Eastern European History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. During the 2019-20 academic year she was a visiting researcher in Warsaw at the Institute of Political Studies at the Polish Academy of Sciences. Her research has been funded by Fulbright and Title VIII fellowships. Lyons is a recipient of the 2020-21 Nathan & Sarah Chesin/ JDC Archives Fellowship. Her research in the JDC Archives focuses on the Joint’s operations in Poland during the time of migration and political change from 1957 through the mid-1960s preceding the March 1968 antisemitic campaign.


Film Screening:

Rescue in the Philippines
Thursday, June 10, 2021
12:00pm–1:30pm (EDT)

Join the JDC Archives for the film screening of Rescue in the Philippines followed by a Q&A with the film’s Senior Consultant Barbara Sasser.

Rescue in the Philippines recounts the previously untold story of how the five Frieder brothers, Cincinnati businessmen making two-for-a-nickel cigars in pre-WWII Manila, together with Manuel Quezon, the charismatic first president of the Philippines, Paul McNutt, US High Commissioner and former governor of Indiana (preparing for his own presidential campaign) and an ambitious Army Colonel named Dwight Eisenhower, helped 1,300 Jews escape the Nazis and immigrate to the Philippines.

Dr. Sasser was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH. She received an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University and a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX, where she currently resides. Involved in community service, she serves on several non-profit boards. Without previous experience in film making, she established Frieder Films in 2011 to make Rescue in the Philippines.

Purchase tickets for $10.00 by clicking the RSVP



Mela Iancu: A Holocaust Heroine in Romania
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
12:00pm–1:30pm (EDT)

In 1939, Mela Iancu, a leader and a heroine of the Holocaust, established an organization called the Jewish Center for the Protection of Mothers and Children. With branches throughout Romania, the center contributed to the salvation of hundreds of women and children during the Holocaust period, providing Jewish children with shelter, food, and medical care and aiding orphans who returned from Transnistria. With financial assistance from JDC and other international organizations, the center helped many children during this period of danger and uncertainty for the Jewish people. Sylvia Hershcovitz presents this narrative from a Jewish, Zionist, and feminist perspective.

Sylvia Hershcovitz is a PhD candidate in the Department of Jewish History at Bar Ilan University in Israel. She is a Spiegel Fellow in The Arnold and Leona Finkler Institute for Holocaust Research and a recipient of the Fred and Ellen Lewis/ JDC Archives Fellowship. Her dissertation focuses on the quotidian lives of Jewish women and their organizations in Romania in the early 20th century. Her research in the JDC Archives focuses on Jewish women and their organizations in Romania during the first half of the twentieth century.



Reflections and Perceptions on Service as JDC Country Directors in North Africa
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
12:00pm–1:30pm (EDT)

Join us for a rare opportunity to learn about the multi-faceted work of JDC in North Africa from the 1980s to the 2000s through the reflections of two of its former country directors.

Dr. Seymour Epstein (Epi), a former JDC pedagogic consultant and country director in Morocco will analyze the JDC program in the Moroccan Jewish community of the 1980s through the prism of authority dialogue which arises between the values and culture of an NGO and its host country. The presentation will describe the various activities of the JDC in education, health, welfare, and care for the aged illustrating some tensions due to competing authorities.

Yechiel Bar-Chaim, JDC’s former country director in Tunisia between 1999 and 2014, will discuss the challenge of navigating American and Tunisian cultural differences while working with local partners to improve welfare and educational services. He will reflect on both the successes and failures of that effort and what he learned in the process.

Originally from Toronto, Dr. Seymour Epstein (Epi) has been very active in formal and informal Jewish educational spaces throughout his career. After working at the United Synagogue Day School in Toronto and teaching at McGill University in the 1970s, Dr. Epstein moved to Morocco in 1981 to become the educational consultant for JDC in Casablanca. He then moved to Paris and was appointed JDC Director of Jewish Education, serving actively in Western Europe and the Former Soviet Union. He later joined JDC’s Former Soviet Union team as a country director and served as the Director of Jewish Education across the FSU and managed community development activities in Siberia, Russia. Following his work with JDC, Dr. Epstein directed Toronto’s Board of Jewish Education at UJA Federation and published a book on his JDC fieldwork. He now consults in the field of Jewish education and community planning.

Yechiel Bar-Chaim began working for the Joint in the mid-eighties in Jerusalem and was sent to work in Vienna in 1989. There, he assisted nearly 55,000 Jews transition from the Former Soviet Union to the West. He then served as JDC Country Director for the former Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. Yechiel started going to Tunisia in 1999, representing the JOINT as the only American NGO active in the country at that time. It was his first encounter with a highly traditional, strictly religious Jewish community, and he considers his fifteen years of journeys there among the most meaningful of his professional career. Currently, Yechiel Bar-Chaim is a consultant for JDC, focusing on projects that assist marginalized populations, such as Czech and Slovak Roma, Israeli Arabs, and Bedouin with disabilities.