The “Non-Partisan Committee…” An Unknown Organization?
April 12, 2016
Beis Moshiach in #1017, Chabad History, Morocco

Did you ever hear of theNon-Partisan Committee for the Spiritual Survival of Eastern European Jewry”? * This committee held annual meetings in New York and in Montreal in which they reaffirmed their commitment to help the Chabad activities in Europe, North Africa and Israel and their deep gratitude to the Joint for their support * Discover more about this organization in todays installment * Part Nine

In some of the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) communication there appears reference to theLay Leaders of Lubavitch.” Who were they referring to? After much digging in the archives we found the answer to this puzzling reference.

It refers to an unknown organization founded before Fall 1948 (5709) by members of Anash in America. The organization, named “Non-Partisan Committee for the Spiritual Survival of Eastern European Jewry,” held annual meetings in New York and in Montreal in which they reaffirmed their commitment to help the Chabad activities in Europe (and by extension, North Africa) which were directed by the Rebbe’s personal Shliach, Rabbi Binyomin Eliyahu Gorodetzky.

As mentioned in previous installments, the agreement between Chabad and the JDC called for Chabad to donate to the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) who in turn sponsored the JDC, and then the JDC will sponsor Chabad activities. Seems like the purpose of the “Non-Partisan Committee…” was to ensure that this agreement is fulfilled.

These fascinating documents are part of the JDC Archives (which were digitized and uploaded online, thanks to a grant from Dr. Georgette Bennett and Dr. Leonard Polonsky CBE).

The Players

Among those named in the various documents of this organization one finds members of Agudas Chasidei Chabad of the United States and Canada such as: Mr. Chaim Zalman (Hyman S.) Kramer, who served as 3rd Vice-President of Aguch; Mr. Abraham Kramer, who served as treasurer; Rabbi Shlomo Aharon Kazarnovsky, Judge Philip M. Kleinfeld and Mr. Sam Kramer, who served as members of Aguch.

Other notable names are Mr. Dovid Leib Meckler, editor of Morgen Journal and the Frierdiker Rebbe’s memoirs; and the renowned Gvir Mr. Julius Stulman, who was one of the first supporters of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, sponsoring 25 thousand dollars every year.

The Canadian branch was run by Rabbi Chaim Noach Denburg of Montreal.

1948: The First Recorded Meeting

In a letter dated December 20, 1948 (Kislev 18, 5709) Mr. Benjamin Glazer, the chairman of the Committee of Sponsors of the “Non Partisan Committee for the Spiritual Survival of Eastern European Jews” writes to the directorate of the JDC, notifying them of the mass meeting which took place on Tuesday December 14, 1948 (Kislev 12) at Hotel Edison in New York, and attaching the resolutions of the meeting, which focused mainly on the work in resettling the holocaust survivors and Chassidim from Russia:

RESOLUTION

WHEREAS the mass conference convened by the Non Partisan Committee for the Spiritual Survival of Eastern European Jews, on Tuesday, December 14th, 1948, at the Hotel Edison, New York, under the auspices of Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn (the Lubavitcher Rabbi), heard a detailed report from the Rabbi’s European coordinator of relief activities – Rabbi Benjamin Gorodetzky.

AND WHEREAS in this report Rabbi Benjamin Gorodetzky outlined the plight and status of displaced persons of Europe and with especial reference to the religious displaced persons who were rescued from the Eastern European countries and who are presently under the care of Rabbi Schneersohn’s Aid For Refugees organization in Paris.

AND WHEREAS this most inspiring report that Rabbi Gorodetzky rendered with regard to the sufferings, privations and hardship that these hundreds of Jews endured during their migratory period until they finally landed in Paris, was epoch making. His report of their present state and rehabilitation was awe inspiring, and his plans for the future of these people leave us with a great sense of hope and continued faith.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that this conference express its recognition and great respect for the self sacrifice and selfless work that is being presently conducted by the leader of Israel, the venerable Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn, for the rescue, rehabilitation and spiritual inspiration of the displaced persons in Europe and that this conference record its warmest best wishes for the success of the future rescue work.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this conference convey on behalf of American Jewry its heartfelt brotherly best wishes to our brothers and sisters who are now awaiting liberation from many of the displaced persons camps in Europe, that they be established in permanent homes in the very near future.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this conference urge all our fellow Jews in all lands and the United States particularly to help in all possible ways to mitigate the burden and to improve materially and spiritually the status of the refugees through full support and active participation in the American Joint Distribution Committee.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this conference express its appreciation for the heroic rescue efforts of the American Joint Distribution Committee and publicly acclaims and thanks the devoted and warm interest of Dr. Joseph Schwartz and his able assistant, Mr. Beckelman, in the interest of the needs of the Displaced Persons, with special reference to the religious groups, the Yeshivoth and the Eastern European refugees, followers of the Lubavitcher Rabbi who are presently housed in Paris.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this conference express its request and simultaneously its hope that the American Joint Distribution Committee will increase its allocations and broaden and expand its assistance to the Displaced Persons in order that each family unit will be enabled to become self-sufficient.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the hearts of all American Jewry unite in a common bond of brotherhood with their fellow Jews in Europe, so that an all-out effort be determined upon to settle with permanence and eradicate once and for all the uncertainty and despair that has been the lot of the wandering Jew for all these years.

IN CONCLUSION BE IT RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be telegraphed to the Lubavitcher Rabbi, Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn, 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York, the American Joint Distribution Committee, New York, the European division in Paris American Joint Distribution Committee, and to the Shearith Haplaitoh in Europe through the press.

5711 (1950): North Africa Is Now Mentioned

The organization met each year. The following is the “Resolutions” from the October 26, 1950 (Cheshvan 15, 5711) meeting, less than a year after the passing of the Frierdiker Rebbe, and a mere few months after Rabbi Michoel Lipsker moved to Morocco to begin his Shlichus. The “Resolutions” mention the North Africa program, and espouse their hope that the JDC will support these too:

[…] RESOLVED that the Committee expresses especial satisfaction with the recently commenced relief and education activities in North Africa by the European Office in Paris; endorses same and urges its continuation and expansion under the able and devoted management of its European Director, Rabbi B. Gorodetzky. It is also

RESOLVED that the Committee expresses its recognition of the fact that the accomplishments to date of Rabbi Schneersohn and his loyal staff and followers in ministering to the material and spiritual needs of our brethren overseas, were considerably enhanced, and to a large extent made possible, by the consistent assistance, cooperation and encouragement generously given by the American Joint Distribution Committee, functioning as a constituent agency of the United Jewish Appeal. Therefore be it

RESOLVED that the Committee hereby again expresses its deep appreciation to the leaders of the American Joint Distribution Committee in this country and in Europe for their consistent co-operation in the past, and it is

FURTHER RESOLVED that the Committee expresses its full confidence and trust that, in view of the fact that the circumstances, and nature of the work require an extension of the program and scope of this work, particularly in North Africa, and being also aware of the understanding cooperation and policy of the Joint Distribution Committee in the past, the leaders of the Joint Distribution Committee will surely increase the JDC subvention commensurate with the extended program envisaged, and considered a dire necessity, by the Central Office of the Lubavitcher Rabbi for the coming twelve months’ period, to render material and spiritual service to the remnants of European Jewry and to our brethren in the North African countries.

5714 (1953): Lubavitch has always been progressive and expansive

On December 1, 1953 (Kislev 24, 5714) the committee met for their annual conference in New York, and heard a report from Rabbi Gorodetzky on the Chabad activities in France, North Africa and Israel. On December 14, 1953 (Teves 8), Mr. Benjamin Glazer, the chairman of the committee, sent the following report to Mr. Moses Leavitt, director of the JDC:

The NON-PARTISAN COMMITTEE FOR THE SURVIVAL OF EASTERN EUROPEAN JEWRY held its Fourth Annual Conference in New York City, on December 1st, 1953. It was well attended by prominent communal workers of all walks of life.

The conference heard a detailed report from Rabbi Benjamin Gorodetzky, European coordinator of the relief, rehabilitation and educational program of the renowned Lubavitcher Rabbi, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, which is conducted overseas, particularly in Europe, North Africa and Israel.

Speaking of the refugee situation in France, Rabbi Gorodetsky pointed out that although many families have been helped to emigrate to the United States, Canada, and Israel and elsewhere, there is still a substantial group of refugee families in France on relief, providing a considerable financial burden. At the same time, he noted with satisfaction the general influence exercised by the Lubavitcher group on the religious and cultural life of their surroundings. He emphasized the extensive educational program which is conducted under the auspices of the Lubavitcher Rabbi’s Office for Refugee Aid in Paris.

Turning to the educational program in Morocco, Rabbi Gorodetzky dwelt at some length on the considerable strides which have been made in recent years in that area. The network of institutions (‘Oholey Joseph Itzchak Lubavitz’) in Morocco embraces 68 Talmud Torahs in many towns and villages in Morocco, exclusive of the Yeshivoth and girls’ seminaries in the principal towns. With a staff of 140 and over 3,000 students, the Lubavitz educational program has revolutionized Jewish life in that backward country. All the children receive free education and educational material, and many receive also material assistance in the form of free meals, clothing and medical care. Recent acquisition of new homes for the girls’ schools in Casablanca and Meknes, has enabled a further expansion of the program. The seminaries have already produced trained teachers from among the native population, helping to solve the acute teacher shortage in the past. Trained and qualified Shochtim, graduating from these institutions were sent for placement in various communities. Recently, a special department was opened in one of the Lubavitcher Yeshivoth for the systematic training of Shochtim.

Rabbi Gorodetzky emphasized the important financial contribution of the American Joint Distribution Committee, which provides a major part of the budgetary requirements of this program. Nevertheless, the need for expansion is so great, that the budget is far too inadequate. Numerous urgent appeals from various communities in Morocco have to be shelved for lack of money, he noted with regret.

Having recently visited Israel, Rabbi Gorodetzky could give a personal account of the progress of the Lubavitcher institutions there. Aided by a substantial grant from the Joint Distribution Committee, a new important institution is presently in the course of construction, namely, a Bet Sefer L’Melacha (vocational school). Preparations have also been made for establishing a Bet Sefer l’Chaklaut (agricultural school). These two additional institutions will provide new opportunities for many young people, including expected emigres from North Africa.

Rabbi Gorodetzky praised the consistent cooperation of the Joint Distribution Committee leaders,  so far as the JDC lessens the burden of fundraising, Lubavitch can concentrate on its educational program so much more, and the arrangement has been all to the public good. The policy of Lubavitch has always been progressive and expansive, and he noted that the JDC’s participation would be commensurate with the program to allow at least for a minimum expansion to meet the crying need.

In the discussion that followed, the participants expressed their satisfaction with the progress achieved in the past year, which was adopted in the form of a unanimous resolution.

Other resolutions adopted by the conference included an expression of gratitude to the leadership of the Joint Distribution Committee for their cooperation and valuable assistance, coupled with a fervent hope that such assistance would be steadily Increased to enable the Lubavitch program to operate efficiently and progressively.

It further resolved to give public recognition in an appropriate manner to the Joint Distribution Committee, emphasizing its contribution to Jewish religious and cultural life through the agency of the well known Lubavitcher activities. Finally, the conference pledged its continued interest and cooperation to further the work of Lubavitch in every phase of its ramified program.

5715 (1954): First Steps in Tunisia

The next installment will focus on the first steps of Chabad in Tunisia, which began with a visit of Rabbi Gorodetzky to Tunisia, reported to the committee, and then back-and-forth discussions with the JDC regarding this matter.

Article originally appeared on Beis Moshiach Magazine (http://beismoshiachmagazine.org/).
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