“I LIVE REQUIRE HELP.”
These four words, sent in a cablegram from Luba Mizne in Warsaw to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in July 1945, perfectly encapsulate the theme of an exhibit opening tomorrow at the New-York Historical Society. Aptly titled “’I Live. Send Help:’ 100 Years of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee,” the exhibit commemorates the aid organization’s 100th anniversary by sharing its diverse collection of photographs, artifacts, film clips, and documents with the public in partnership with the New-York Historical society.
Highlights include a 1940 letter from Albert Einstein to JDC Chairman Edward Warburg, in which he praises the JDC for its work in organizing the evacuation of refugee children from Europe, and a cablegram sent from Henry Morgenthau, U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, to Jewish philanthropist Jacob Schiff in New York, requesting assistance for Jews in Palestine at the start of World War I. There’s an audio recording of entertainer Eddie Cantor endorsing the JDC’s work during WWII, and of Alaska Airlines president James Wooten describing his involvement in the JDC-organized evacuation of Jews from Yemen.
Most poignant, however, are the personal artifacts on display, like the dress belonging to Lilli Platt of New York, which was one of the items distributed to Jewish refugees arriving at Ellis Island from Europe in 1949.
“We are proud to be partnering with the venerable New-York Historical Society to highlight JDC’s enduring role in one of humankind’s most tumultuous centuries,” the aid organization’s CEO Alan H. Gill said in a statement. “This exhibition truly celebrates JDC’s ten decades of unparalleled global humanitarian service and Jewish community development.”
The exhibit opens at the New-York Historical Society June 13, and runs through September 21.
Isabel Fattal, a former intern at Tablet Magazine, attends Wesleyan University.