Oral History Collection Sheds New Light on JDC’s Past

JDCs Oral History Collection offers new perspectives on JDC history from the people who helped to shape the organization.

In August 1946, Jacob (Jack) Joslow, JDCs Director of Education for the U.S. Zone in Germany, was asked to procure 35,000 prayer books for Rosh Hashanah. The New Year was just weeks away, and JDC wanted desperately to supply the prayer books to Jews in German DP camps. In his oral history, Joslow recalls how against all odds, 35,000 prayer books were printed, assembled and finally delivered on Erev Rosh Hashanah.

Joslow’s story, along with other dramatic narratives, has been uncovered in JDC’s Oral History Collection. JDC has partnered with the Memorial de la Shoah to digitize and catalog more than 100 interviews with the organization’s leaders and staff members. The oral histories were recorded between 1966 and 2003, and include stories about JDCs humanitarian work across the globe. The collection includes interviews with long-time JDC staff members (a.k.a. Jointniks), such as Paulette Fink (1911-2005), who organized housing for 1,500 child survivors of the Holocaust; Samuel Haber (1903-1984), JDC Director in the U.S. Zone in Germany from 1947 to 1953; and Monroe Goldwater (1885-1980), a prominent attorney and a member of JDC’s Board of Directors.

The Oral History Collection offers new and unique perspectives on the history of JDC from the people who helped to shape the organization. In addition to more than 300 audio recordings, the collection also contains paper documents, e.g. transcripts, correspondence and newspaper articles. All of the audio recordings and documents have been digitized. A finding aid is being prepared and will be available to the public online.