The JDC Is Founded

November 27, 1914

The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee is founded with the merger of the Central Relief Committee and the American Jewish Relief Committee. Following an urgent plea for funds to support the Jewish community in Palestine in August, American Jewish leaders, led by Louis Marshall and Jacob Schiff had quickly raised $50,000 and delivered it to Jews in living there.

Destruction and population displacement caused by World War I generated needs among Jews in many parts of the world. American Jewish leaders determined that it was necessary to coordinate and consolidate all relief efforts. On October 24, 1914, during a meeting held at Temple Emanu-El in New York City, it was decided that a unified relief organization made up of representatives of many American Jewish organizations be established. The conference released a statement that pledged that national Jewish organizations and important Jewish communities of America would provide relief for Jews in Europe and Palestine who had found themselves in precarious circumstances because of the War. It was decided that “all Jews of every shade of thought, irrespective of the land of their birth, are solemnly admonished to contribute with the utmost generosity to the fund which must be gathered to meet this superlative need. The committee recognizes the economic distress which now bears heavily on all.” Whereas Jews had individually provided funds for Jews in need and crises, the JDC, a merger of the two committees, was formed. Its primary objective a century later remains to aid Jews world-wide in a timely and collective fashion. In 2013, the JDC operates in more than 70 countries, providing relief and assistance to millions of Jews around the world. Like Israel itself, the JDC contributes to the scaffolding of Jewish peoplehood.