A Moment with JDC CEO Steven Schwager

JDC’s chief exec isn’t the type to be found idling in his office. Steven Schwager likes to move.

In his capacity as JDC executive vice president and CEO, Schwager travels extensively to such diverse locations as Australia, Ethiopia, Morocco, Hungary, Bulgaria, Russia, and Ukraine—a sure reflection of the scope and reach of JDC programs assisting Jews and others in need around the world. He’s logged so much flight time on behalf of JDC, in fact, that Schwager was recently inducted into the “million miles club” of an airline he frequently travels with.

No Passport Required was lucky to catch Schwager between trips and ask him to share his thoughts on where the mission of JDC stands today.

On JDC’s most important challenges in 2010: On the one hand, we are blessed today that JDC can literally reach any Jew in need anywhere in the world, and that Jews now have the freedom to move from countries of danger to countries of safety. That alone makes this a unique period in Jewish history.

All of that said, the world economic crisis has made life more difficult for Jews across the globe. In the countries where we operate, tens of thousands of poor elderly Jews aren’t receiving the basic resources they need because JDC lacks the resources to adequately provide them.

Similarly, we believe there are at least 25,000 Jewish children living far below the poverty line in the former Soviet Union and Central and Eastern Europe who don’t get the help they need due to lack of funds. Without adequate clothes, food, and medicine, how can we ensure these young people become the Jewish community’s next generation?

Finally, in Israel, there are more than 300,000 Jewish children at risk. We must help the government deal with this issue. There is no excuse for Jewish children living in poverty anywhere, and particularly in the Jewish homeland.

Now that we can reach every Jew, we must not let them down.

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