I first learned about the JDC (often called the “Joint”) 20 years ago. A congregant had been involved with the organization for many decades. When I met Herb, he was an Honorary Vice President of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

Herb would regale me for hours with tales of the Joint. Oh, I already knew about the JDC and the work it did with rescue and resettlement of Soviet and Ethiopian Jews. But it wasn’t until listening to Herb’s stories that I gained a real appreciation. And that’s when I decided I wanted to somehow be involved, somehow help.

And it was that inspiration (and later, meeting our own Tricia Uhlmann, who currently serves on the Executive Committee of the JDC – and is our current Federation President), that led me to the work that I have done in Ethiopia, Serbia, and Bulgaria.

Working with and through the JDC, it has been a humbling honor to meet the Jews (and non-Jews) the JDC has helped through their three primary roles of rescue, relief, and renewal.

Some of you may remember my story about Bella, the wonderful Bulgarian woman who thrives today because of JDC’s efforts. The JDC continues to help her live a life of dignity and of joy. Here is a video of Bella putting a mezzuzah on her door for the first time in her adult life. My visit was made possible by the JDC:

Putting up a Bella
Putting up a Mezzuzah….by Bella

As some may recall, a few years back I went to Ethiopia and did volunteer work. There I met Rick Hodes, an American doctor, who headed up the JDC’s health programs for both the Beta Yisrael community before they made aliyah to Israel, as well as the Falash Mura community (related to Ethiopian Jews). His efforts were – and are – remarkable. I had the privilege of watching a planeload of Ethiopians take off from Ethiopia to Israel, after Dr. Hodes had tended to them, inoculated them, healed them. A couple of years later, while I was taking pictures in the Machane Yehudah outdoor market in Jerusalem, a man stopped me. He asked if I had ever been in Ethiopia? He remembered my photographing his family in Addis Ababa.Now, thanks to the JDC, he was thriving in Jerusalem!

Simply put, the JDC is in the business of being heroes. No one does it to become one. Indeed, everyone I have met denies it. But it is true. And it just happens. When food is given to needy Jewish pensioners in the former Soviet Union – when rescue operations hit the ground in the Philippines and Haiti when disaster strikes – when endangered Jews throughout the world are being rescued…the JDC is quietly there doing the work of Tikkun Olam. 

This year, the JDC celebrates its 100th anniversary. Please join me in saying thanks to the men and women of the Joint, who each day for 100 years have served the world a healthy portion of healing and hope.
Be with us this Friday night AND Sunday, February 23, 3 pm
when the Executive Director of the JDC,

Alan Gill

will be at B’nai Jehudah

to continue our celebration of the JDC’s good work. Light refreshments will be served after Alan’s presentation.

 The event is free and open to the entire community