The JDC Jewish charity organization and its subsidiary Agro-Joint played major role in the history of European and Ukrainian population of 1920-30’s. The JDC became the first in organizing campaign for overcoming the consequences of famine as well as provided financial and economic assistance to the Jewish agricultural colonies of USSR in 1921-1923.
American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (“Joint”, the JDC) was created in 1914 on the initiative of the USA Jewish leaders to assist Jews who suffered during World War II. Gradually the organization started to help needy Jews around the world, including Ukrainian Jews. Few people know that in 1920-1930s Ukrainian office of the JDC was located in Dnipropetrovsk, not in Kyiv or Kharkiv – the capital of Ukraine of that time.
One of the main JDC activities was providing the assistance to children affected by famine and civil war. For example, in late 1922 the JDC supported 913 orphanages in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, where 37.5 thousand children lived. The JDC also supported other children's institutions.
Although the JDC was established as an organization which aimed to assist the Jewish population, it also supported those in need and victims of famine regardless of their nationality. About 40% of all money spent in Ukraine in spring 1923 on seeds, machinery, tools, was distributed among the non-Jewish population. This also applied to the help to children and other forms of participation in the fight against famine. Totally, during 1921-1938, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee spent more than $ 20 million; in current prices it is about $ 300 million, for implementation of various charitable programs in the Soviet Union, including the UkSSR. In 1924 the American Jewish Joint Agricultural Corporation (Agro-Joint) was founded. It coordinated the land arrangement of Jewish workers. On the territory of Ukraine and Crimea with the participation of the Agro-Joint 215 Jewish agricultural colonies were established. During the 1920s – early 1930s, about 100,000 Jews lived there.
On March 29, the exhibition “Jewish Agricultural Colonies. Agro-Joint” was opened at Museum “Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine”. The grand opening of the exhibition was visited by the heads of JDC from USA, Israel, Ukraine etc. The delegation included Stanley Rabin, JDC President; Mark B. Sisisky, Chair of the FSU Executive Committee; Shira Genish, JDC Country Director for Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus; Yonatan Leifer, Director ofJDC Programs in Eastern Ukraine.
The exhibition presents unique exhibits showing the work of the JDC and Agro-Joint in 1920-30s. The exhibits included archival documents, warning of Katerynoslav GPU department on thorough supervision of Jewish charities, photos of Joseph Rosen (Agro-Joint Director in USSR), Borys Khanis (Head of the Jewish community of Katerynoslav in 1920), Samuel Mazo (Deputy Head of Dnipropetrovsk office of Agro-Joint), etc. The life of these people was tragic: mass repressions of 1937 – 1938 focused on “foreign agents” as well and Agro-Joint employees were included into this category. Dozens of workers of Agro-Joint regional offices, including Borys Khanis and Samuel Mazo, were accused of counterrevolutionary activities and were shot by the NKVD staff.
The original household and agricultural items, used by residents of Jewish agricultural colonies, deserve special interest. Among them there are: primus, bellows and other agricultural implements. Even the wheel of “John Deere” tractor was preserved. Perhaps not everyone knows, but these tractors were supplied from the United States by Jewish charitable organizations.
The visitors of Museum “Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine” can observe our renewed exhibition.
Soon we will open another new exhibition, but this will be later.