Opinions & Commentary

Joint Distribution Committee still responding to crises Jewishly

In this year of crippling natural disasters, we are comforted knowing the American Joint Distribution Committee still provides humanitarian relief to and on behalf of Jews around the world, as it has done for over a century.

Noteworthy – and praiseworthy – efforts by JDC, or “the Joint,” as it was known before these days of organizational alphabet soup, include responding to the devastating 7.1 earthquake in Central Mexico and supporting the search, rescue and emergency aid efforts of Cadena, its Mexican Jewish humanitarian partner, in hard-hit Mexico City. The Joint’s model is one of collaboration with local agencies, in this case Cadena – Spanish for “chain” – a Mexican Jewish relief agency founded in 2005 that operates in Latin America and Israel.

Also in partnership with Cadena, as well as UNICEF and Heart to Heart International, JDC is offering humanitarian relief to the Jewish and non- Jewish victims of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The Joint provides hygiene kits, safe drinking water, psychosocial support for children and access to safe educational facilities, as well as rehabilitating homes of hundreds of children throughout the Caribbean, including in Haiti and Barbuda. JDC provides food and recovery aid to the Jewish community of Cuba, with whom it has been working since the 1990s; before the storm, the Joint worked with the community in Havana on a crisis communication strategy to ensure the well-being of Jews in the provinces.

JDC is an amalgam of three Jewish relief agencies founded in 1914 to provide aid to the 59,000 destitute Jews living in Palestine. Remarkably, since then, the Joint has offered relief to Jews during every crisis in our history, from famine in the Pale of Settlement to financial upheaval in Argentina.

Today, the Joint works in 70 countries – including Israel – to alleviate hunger and hardship, rescue Jews in danger and, of course, provide immediate relief for victims of natural and man-made disasters.

We don’t often hear about the relief efforts of JDC until it springs into action. It doesn’t have a network of local domestic offices to publicize its efforts and raise funds. Instead, the Joint’s disaster relief programs are funded by special appeals of Jewish federations across North America. We commend our local federation, Combined Jewish Philanthropies, for granting JDC around $2.5 million per year in FY2017 and 2018.

That’s not to say tens of thousands of individuals don’t give, as well; if you would like to support the Joint’s worthy efforts, we encourage you to visit donate. jdc.org or jdc.org/mexicorelief.


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