• Issue: December 1962
  • Designer: I. Blaushild
  • Plate no.: 79
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

For centuries the maxim "I am my brother's keeper" has been at the core of Jewish tradition. This age-long heritage of helping one's neighbor has found renewed affirmation in the partnership of the free Jewish community of America in giving a new lease of life to countless Jews threatened by persecution and oppression. This partnership was created by a responsible act of dedication in 1938 which brought into being the United Jewish Appeal.

At that time the once flourishing Jewish communities of Europe faced the gravest threat to Jewish survival that history has ever known. Thousands of European Jews were in flight and many more were attempting to flee the lengthening shadows of Nazism. With the concerted efforts of American Jewry there was still hope that a lifeline could be thrown to help the persecuted reach the shores of Palestine where a small Jewish community stood ready to welcome them.

The first campaign of the UJA - the unified fund-raising instrument headed by the leaders of American Jewry - William Rosenwald, Dr. Jonah B. Wise, Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver and Edward Warburg - was held in 1939.

With the outbreak of World War II Europe became a gigantic death camp for its Jewish communities. Although there was little that could be done to stem the mounting tides of Nazi destruction with the money of the United Jewish Appeal, the Joint Distribution Committee and representatives of the Palestine Jewish community found secret roads along which money, food and medical supplies were passed to the Jews trapped in the ghettos and underground hiding places.

But rescue remained the primary concern. The Jewish Agency, the chief beneficiary of the U.J.A.. succeeded in snatching thousands of Jews from the teeth of the Nazi monster. Many were brought to Palestine despite the White Paper restrictions. After the war the remnants of a broken Jewry, found languishing in the concentration camps, were provided with health-restoring services and the majority were helped to reach Palestine.

When the state was founded in 1948 still greater responsibilities devolved on the free Jewry of the world. With the dedicated support of American Jewry the nascent State of Israel was able to keep faith with the ideal implicit in the Law of Return: that not only should every Jew have the right to return to Israel but that no immigrant should be without food, shelter or medical care. From 1948-51, the first three years of the state, when stark austerity gripped the country, half a million immigrants came to Israel. Arab hostility had made it imperative to move whole communities that had lived for centuries in the Islamic countries. With the aid of UJA funds entire Jewish communities from Yemen, Iraq and other Moslem countries were airlifted to Israel. The last survivors of the DP camps were also brought to Israel. Between 1951 and 1962 immigration continued unabated. Each year thousands came; some fled oppression, others the harsh decree of poverty and misery, others from the growing threat of pogroms.

With UJA assistance, homes, farms, schools for young immigrants as well as Hebrew classes and retraining schemes for adults have been established to help the million newcomers rebuild their shattered lives. The United Jewish Appeal has by far transcended its role as a fund-raising instrument: it continues to be an affirmation of the responsibility shared by the Jews of the Diaspora and Israel in giving dignity, happiness and security to all those Jews who cannot breathe freely in the lands in which they live.

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25 Years United Jewish Appeal