Israeli President Reuven Rivlin welcomed more than 100 preeminent Jewish community leaders from North America and around the world – Board Members and guests of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) – to his residence to celebrate Israel’s 70thanniversary and JDC’s century-plus work in the land of Israel. At the special event kicking off JDC’s annual Board Meetings, President Rivlin was treated to a recently unearthed JDC archival document, a 1920 letter from his father’s cousin Rabbi Moshe Rivlin requesting JDC assistance for matzah and food for needy Jerusalem Jews at Passover. Since it was founded in 1914, JDC has invested more than $2 billion in social services and aid.

“We are honored to join President Rivlin and celebrate seven decades of Israeli independence and the hundred-plus year commitment of JDC, and diaspora Jews, to empower Israel’s most vulnerable and provide opportunity for those on the margins of Israeli society. Through these efforts – empowering Jews and Arabs, seniors and youth, the poor and new immigrants – we are proud to strengthen Israel and ensure a bright future for all its citizens,” said JDC President Stanley Rabin, a prominent Jewish leader and philanthropist from Dallas, Texas, and JDC CEO David Schizer.

In Israel, JDC develops social services in conjunction with the Israeli government, the local authorities and nonprofits, and other partners for the benefit of Israel’s most vulnerable populations: children at risk, the elderly population, the unemployed and people with disabilities.

During their time in Israel, JDC leaders will join JDC’s staff experts and senior management to meet with Israeli philanthropists and social investors; explore various JDC-created social programs addressing issues from employment to education to housing; inaugurate the leading social studies and knowledge center, established by JDC, at the Academic College of Tel-Aviv–Yaffo; and meet with social entrepreneurs who are participating in Hackaveret – the Israeli social innovation hub – which was founded by JDC in conjunction the Israeli Government.

About the archival documents and photo:

A framed 1920 letter from Rabbi Moshe Rivlin – a cousin of President Rivlin’s father who served as the Secretary-General of Knesset Israel organization of Jews in Jerusalem – requesting assistance from JDC to purchase food and matzah for needy Jews in the city for Passover. JDC’s response, providing the funding, is also included in the frame, as well as photograph of a soup kitchen in Jerusalem, circa 1920, that had been supported by JDC at the time. The soup kitchen was run by Yosef Navon, the father of Israel’s fifth President, Yitzhak Navon, and named for renowned Jewish philanthropist Nathan Straus, who supported this work.