Jewish Labor Committee (U.S.)Variant names
The Jewish Labor Committee was founded on February 25, 1934. Its first efforts were directed toward relieving the suffering of the victims of Nazi terror, participating in rescue work, and supporting the growing anti-Nazi labor resistance movement in Europe. Eventually, JLC became an organization that would articulate the Jewish perspective and interests of American Jewish workers on issues of national and international importance. JLC serves as a bridge between Jewish workers and the trade union movement. It was active in the civil rights movement, the struggle for Soviet Jewry, and often acts as organized labor’s representative involving racial and religious issues. The Jewish Labor Committee manages activities in the area of social justice, civil and human rights, Yiddish-speaking programs and programs of Jewish cultural and Jewish defense.
From the guide to the Jewish Labor Committee collection, undated, 1933-1969, (American Jewish Historical Society)
The Jewish Labor Committee, an umbrella group of Jewish trade unions and fraternal organizations, was founded in 1934 for the purpose of organizing opposition to Fascism, providing assistance to its victims, and fighting all forms of bigotry. It maintained close contact with European resistance movements and was able to effect the rescue of several thousand labor and socialist activists and their families. After the War it maintained contact with its allies abroad, while at the same time building programs aimed at addressing problems of discrimination, doing publicity and educational work on issues of concern to the Jewish community, and supporting the labor movement in the United States. In the years immediately following the War, and in the aftermath of the Holocaust, the JLC's priorities shifted in response to changing conditions in the U.S. and worldwide. While continuing its overseas programs, the Committee turned its attention more and more to anti-discrimination efforts and other work within the American trade-union movement and in the American Jewish community. After organizing labor support for the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, the JLC increasingly devoted itself to educating the labor movement on issues of concern to Israel –- a departure from its earlier anti-Zionist position. During the 1950s the JLC worked to secure reparations payments to victims of the Holocaust. From the 1960s onward the JLC increasingly focused on a domestic agenda, defining its role as a link or liaison between the labor movement and the organized Jewish community. It continued to campaign on issues of civil rights, human rights, and trade union rights, and was active in the campaign to publicize and protest the plight of Soviet Jewry. Among the Committee's new initiatives in the 1970s to 90s were: the organizing of trips to Israel for U.S. trade unionists; the development of a Holocaust Teachers Summer Program lead by JLC Vice-President Vladka Meed (an educational effort that took groups of mainly non-Jewish public school teachers to Poland and Israel each summer, and followed up with scholarly "alumni" conferences held in Washington, DC); the creation of a New York City-based committee to press for advances in civil rights (including support for desegregation of building trades apprenticeship programs); and support for a variety of efforts to foster interest in Yiddish culture and Jewish labor history.
From the guide to the Jewish Labor Committee (U.S.) Records, Part III: Post-war Administrative Files and Anti-Discrimination Department Files, Bulk, 1950-1989, 1939-1993, (Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive)
The Jewish Labor Committee was founded in New York City in 1934 for the purpose of organizing opposition to nazism and fascism and providing assistance to the victims of fascist regimes. During World War II, the committee maintained close relations with European resistance movements and was able to rescue several thousand labor and socialist activists and their families. After the war, the committee continued to provide relief to Holocaust survivors by shipping food, clothing, and medical supplies to Europe. It also cooperated with other Jewish agencies to help reunite families and organized a child adoption program. The committee contributed to the reconstruction of Jewish culture after 1945 by financing Yiddish libraries, schools, and cultural centers throughout Europe and Israel.
From the description of Records of Jewish Labor Committee, 1934-1947 [microform]. (University of Pittsburgh). WorldCat record id: 31483714
The Jewish Labor Committee, an umbrella group of Jewish trade unions and fraternal organizations, was founded in 1934 for the purpose of organizing opposition to Fascism and providing assistance to its victims. It maintained close contact with European resistance movements and was able to effect the rescue of several thousand labor and socialist activists and their families, as well as other refugees. After World War II, the Committee continued its program of relief to Holocaust victims, providing regular shipments of food, clothing, and medical supplies. It cooperated with other Jewish agencies in helping reunite families, and organized a Child Adoption program through which American trade unionists supported thousands of destitute children. The Committee contributed to the reconstruction of Jewish culture after 1945 by financing Yiddish libraries, schools, and cultural centers throughout Europe and Israel. In addition, the Committee has campaigned for trade union rights in the United States and abroad, and against anti-Semitism and other forms of racial and religious discrimination.
From the description of Photographs, 1930s-1980s. 1940s-1950s (bulk). (New York University). WorldCat record id: 477240680
The Jewish Labor Committee, an umbrella group of Jewish trade unions and fraternal organizations, was founded in 1934 for the purpose of organizing opposition to fascism and providing assistance to its victims. It maintained close contact with European resistance movements and was able to effect the rescue of several hundred labor and socialist activists and their families, as well as other refugees. After World War II, the Committee continued its program of relief to Holocaust victims, providing regular shipments of food, clothing, and medical supplies. It cooperated with other Jewish agencies in helping reunite families, and organized a "Child Adoption" program through which American trade unionists supported thousands of destitute children. The Committee contributed to the reconstruction of Jewish culture after 1945 by financing Yiddish libraries, schools, and cultural centers throughout Europe and Israel. In addition, the Committee has campaigned for trade union rights in the United States and abroad, and against anti-Semitism and other forms of racial and religious discrimination.
From the guide to the Jewish Labor Committee Photographs, Bulk, 1940-1959, 1930s-1980s, (Bulk 1940s-1950s), (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)
The Jewish Labor Committee, an umbrella group of Jewish trade unions and fraternal organizations, was founded in 1934 for the purpose of organizing opposition to Fascism, providing assistance to its victims, and fighting all forms of bigotry. It maintained close contact with European resistance movements and was able to effect the rescue of several thousand labor and socialist activists and their families. (For the earlier history of the Jewish Labor Committee, see the finding aid for Records of the Jewish Labor Committee (U.S.), Part I, Holocaust Era Files, 1934-1947 .)
After the Second World War the Committee continued its program of relief to Holocaust victims, providing massive shipments of food, clothing, and medical supplies. It cooperated with other Jewish agencies in reuniting families, provided immigration assistance, offered help with employment and housing for refugees who came to the United States, and had several representatives working in the Displaced Persons camps in Germany.
The Committee organized a post-war "Child Adoption Program" through which American trade unions, branches of fraternal organizations such as the Workmen's Circle and others made monthly financial contributions toward the support of thousands of destitute children in Europe and elsewhere. The Jewish Labor Committee was the main source of financial support for a number of children's homes in France, Italy, Belgium, Poland and Palestine/Israel. An eighteen-minute film about the children's homes in France, commissioned by the JLC, was an effective fund-raising tool (this film is available for viewing at the Library). The Committee also made substantial contributions to the reconstruction of Jewish culture after 1945 by financing Yiddish libraries, schools and publications in North and South America, Europe and Palestine/Israel.
The JLC sent emissaries to assess the situation in the ruined Jewish communities and refugee camps of Europe beginning in 1945. Their reports, and those of survivors who toured the U.S. under JLC auspices, brought the harsh realities of the aftermath of the Holocaust to American audiences. Officers of the JLC were active in the lobbying effort that secured reparations for victims of the Holocaust from the governments of Germany and Austria in the early 1950s.
From the guide to the Jewish Labor Committee Records, Part II: Holocaust Era Files, 1948-1956, (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)
The Jewish Labor Committee (JLC) was founded to provide a presence for Jewish labor in the councils of the American trade-union movement and in the Jewish "establishment," and to mobilize labor in the struggle against fascism. Its founding meeting, at Central Plaza on New York's Lower East Side, on February 25th 1934, brought together more than a thousand delegates representing the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), Amalgamated Clothing Workers, United Hebrew Trades, Workmen's Circle, Jewish Daily Forward Association, and a number of smaller groups. Baruch Charney Vladeck, general manager of the Forward, was chosen president, David Dubinsky of the ILGWU, treasurer; Joseph Baskin of the Workmen's Circle, secretary; and Benjamin Gebiner, also of the Workmen's Circle, executive secretary. Holding that only a broad-based workers' movement could overthrow Hitlerism, the JLC emphasized its labor orientation and nonsectarian philosophy. Its immediate aims were to support Jewish civil and human rights everywhere, to support progressive and democratic anti-fascist groups, to aid refugees, and to educate the American labor movement (and the general public) about the Nazi threat.
The JLC was the brainchild of B. C. Vladeck, a writer and organizer known for the elegance of his Yiddish oratory and adept at navigating the perilous waters of New York immigrant politics. Vladeck, like many of the early generation of Jewish-American labor and socialist leaders, had served his political apprenticeship in the famous "Bund" or General Jewish Workers' Union of Lithuania, Poland, and Russia. In many respects, the founders of the JLC were translating and adapting lessons learned in the ranks of the Bund for use in the very different social milieu of America.
As JLC president, Vladeck gave a stirring anti-Nazi speech at the 1934 convention of the American Federation of Labor. In response the AFL created a Labor Chest to aid the victims of fascism; in coming years, the Chest funded a number of JLC-inspired educational and aid projects. The JLC handled much of the editorial work for the Labor Chest News Service and produced many Labor Chest pamphlets. The Committee also organized a mass meetings in New York City under Labor Chest auspices.
The JLC worked with other national and local Jewish organizations engaged in anti-Nazi work. One of the its early concerns was to build support for a boycott of Nazi goods, both in the labor movement and among the general public; with the American Jewish Congress it participated in the Joint Boycott Council from 1938 to 1941. When the American Olympics Committee declined to heed widespread protests against United States participation in the Berlin Olympics of 1936, the JLC, with the Workmen's Circle and the ILGWU, staged a World Labor Athletic Carnival, also known as the Counter-Olympics, in New York City in August 1936.
Another urgent concern was the fate of refugees. Neither the U.S. government nor the AFL was open to proposals for relaxing immigration controls, so the JLC had to press for special ad hoc measures. In 1939-1940, after the Nazi invasion of Poland and the fall of France, immediate action was needed to save European socialist and labor leaders, who would be prime targets of the Gestapo. The JLC compiled a list that included Jewish and non-Jewish labor leaders and socialists, as well as Yiddish writers and other activists deemed to be immediate danger. Through a network of courageous Underground couriers money was smuggled into Nazi-occupied territory to sustain the scattered remnants of East European Jewry in hiding. The JLC also supported exiled representatives of European unions and socialist parties, who took refuge in New York and made plan for the political future of their respective countries. During these years it became a conduit of U.S. government financial support for some of these groups, as well.
As the War drew to a close the immediate needs of survivors became the JLC's prime concern. By 1944 it was spending close to $1,000,000 a year, mostly on European relief. But the rescue and relief work of the JLC was not measured in dollars alone. Intangibles were just as important: knowledge of conditions in Europe; links to the underground; the ability to find jobs, homes, and care for emigres; the mobilizing of union locals to solicit large quantities of free clothing, toys, and other goods from employers; and the thousands of hours of donated labor to anti-Nazi efforts by JLC supporters.
In the spring of 1945 the JLC presented an exhibition entitled "Heroes and Martyrs of the Ghettos" at the Vanderbilt Gallery in New York. It opened on April 19, 1945, the second anniversary of the destruction of the Warsaw ghetto and was the first exhibit dealing with the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance to be seen in New York - perhaps the first in America. Beginning in 1945 JLC officers and trade-union leaders, among them Nathan Chanin, David Dubinsky, Charles Zimmerman, Jacob Pat, Paul Goldman, visited European communities and DP camps and sent back searing accounts of the condition of Jewish survivors and the destruction of Jewish life. By 1947 there were still an estimated 850,000 people living in DP camps, and it was obvious that few Jewish survivors would return to their former homes. Bella Meiksin and Nathan Gierowitz, were assigned as full-time JLC representatives working in the camps of the U.S. Zone of Germany. JLC offices in Brussels and Stockholm served thousands of refugees waiting to be permanently resettled. Across Europe soup kitchens, cooperative workshops, Yiddish schools and libraries, day nurseries, and clinics were supported by JLC funds.
In New York, the JLC helped prepare lists of those who perished and those who survived and established elaborately cross-referenced card files on people seeking loved ones. Making ample use of the columns of the Forward and of Yiddish-language radio station WEVD, the JLC tried to reunite families and publicized the needs of victims of Nazism and anti-Jewish persecution around the world. The JLC also organized a so-called "Child Adoption" Program. Its aim was not adoption in the usual sense, but rather to provide a mechanism by which Americans could contribute to the care of destitute children (mostly Jewish non-Jewish Italians)living in Europe or Palestine. At a cost of $300 per year, a union shop or local, fraternal society, Workmen's Circle branch, women's club, or any other group or individual could "adopt" a child. The money was used to supply clothes, school supplies, toys and gifts, and special food parcels. Donors received a photo of "their" adoptee(s), a biography, progress reports, and sometimes letters from the children.
In the years immediately following the War, and in the aftermath of the Holocaust, the JLC's priorities shifted in response to changing conditions in the U.S. and worldwide. While continuing its overseas programs, the Committee turned its attention more and more to anti-discrimination efforts and other work within the American trade-union movement and in the American Jewish community. That history is documented in Parts 2 and 3 of the JLC Records.
- George Berlin, "The Anti-Nazi Activities of the Jewish Labor Committee in the 1930s," MA thesis, Columbia University, 1966.--, "The Jewish Labor Committee and American Immigration Policy in the 1930s," Studies in Jewish Bibliography, History and Literature in Honor of I. Edward Kiev(New York, 1971).
- Catherine Collomp, "La Solidarite ethnique et politique dans l’exil: le Jewish Labor committee et les Refugies anti-nazis et anti-fascistes, 1934-1941." Materiaux pour l’Histoire de Notre Temps, No. 60 (October-December 2000), pp.23-33.
- Melech Epstein, Jewish Labor in the United States of America(New York: Ktav, 1969), vol. 2, pp. 384-88.
- Moshe R. Gottlieb, American Anti-Nazi Resistance, 1933-1941: An Historical Analysis(New York: Ktav, 1982).
- Samuel Halperin, The Political World of American Zionism(Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1961), pp. 162-69.
- Katy Hazan, Les Orphelins de la Shoah: Les Maisons de l’Espoir (1944-1960)(Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 2000).
- Will Herberg, "The Jewish Labor Movement in the United States," American Jewish Yearbook(1952): 3-74.
- John Herling, "Baruch Charney Vladeck," American Jewish Yearbook, (1939- 1940): 79-93. The Jewish People Past and Present, 4 vols. (New York, 1946- 1955), vol. 2, pp. 399-430.
- Jack Jacobs, "A Friend in Need: The Jewish Labor Committee and Refugees from the German-Speaking Lands, 1933-1945," YIVO Annual, Vol. 23 (1996), pp. 391-417.
- Sidney Kelman, "Limits of Consensus: Unions and the Holocaust," American Jewish History79 (Spring 1990): 336-57.
- David Kranzler, "The Role of Relief and Rescue during the Holocaust by the Jewish Labor Committee," in Seymour Maxwell Finger, American Jewry during the Holocaust(New York: Holmes and Meier, 1984), Appendix 4-2.
- Arieh Lebowitz and Gail Malmgreen, eds., Archives of the Holocaust, Volume 14: Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives, New York University – Records of the Jewish Labor Committee (New York: Garland Publishers, 1993).
- Gail Malmgreen, "Comrades and Kinsmen: The Jewish Labor Committee and Anti-Nazi Activity, 1934-41," in Jews, Labor and the Left, 1918-48, ed. Christine Collette and Stephen Bird (Aldershot, UK: Ashgate, 2000), pp. 4-20.
- Gail Malmgreen, "Labor and the Holocaust: The Jewish Labor Committee and the Anti-Nazi Struggle," Labor’s Heritage, Vol. 3, no. 4 (October 1991).
- Monty Noam Penkower, The Jews Were Expendable: Free World Diplomacy and the Holocaust(Urbana, IL: Illinois University Press, 1983), pp. 68-69.
- Edward S. Shapiro, "The World Labor Athletic Carnival of 1936: An American Anti-Nazi Protest," American Jewish History 59(March 1985): 255-73.
- Kenneth Waltzer, "American Jewish Labor and Aid to Polish Jews during the Holocaust," unpublished paper presented at a conference of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, Washington, DC, March 1987 (on file at the Tamiment Library/Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives).
From the guide to the Jewish Labor Committee (U.S.) Records, Part I: Holocaust Era Files, 1934-1947, (Tamiment Library / Wagner Archives)
Founded in 1934, the Jewish Labor Committee (JLC) originated in an effort to link the forces of Jewish unions and other labor and Jewish fraternal organizations in the fight against fascism. Baruch Charney Vladeck, general manager of the Jewish Daily Forward, organized the founding meeting of the JLC on February 25, 1934 in New York City. In an immediate response to the successful organization of the JLC in New York, a Chicago chapter was established. The activities of the JLC were national in scope and thus the Chicago office participated in campaigns and activities inaugurated by the New York headquarters, as well as undertaking locally-based programs. Jacob Siegel, managing editor of the Chicago edition of the Jewish Daily Forward and a leader of the Workmen's Circle, became the first chairman of the Chicago JLC and led the Chicago JLC until his death in 1965. As did Siegel, executive members and field representatives of the Chicago JLC arose from the ranks of trade unions and the Jewish press. Leading members of the Chicago JLC during Siegel s tenure and in the years following included: Morris Bialis (ILGWU), David Schacter (SEIU), and Aaron ("Archie") Aronin (Chicago Forward.)
Efforts to aid Jews and other victims of Nazi domination, as well as to publicize their plight, were the chief activities of the JLC in its early years. To this end, the JLC joined with the American Jewish Congress to organize a boycott of Nazi goods. During the 1930s the JLC made every effort to aid victims of Nazism in Europe, through collections of money, food and clothing drives, and other forms of assistance to refugees and exiles. Following the Allied victory, the JLC contributed to the rehabilitation of war-torn Europe by creating schools, clinics and homes for destitute children, and by providing services for Holocaust survivors in displaced persons camps.
The JLC s aim to "impress upon the Jewish masses that they must fight hand in hand with the general forces of democracy" remained the guiding principle of the JLC after the War. During the decades following the War, the JLC worked toward ensuring democratic rights for workers and minorities in the United States.
An interesting period of the Chicago JLC s activity is documented in the correspondence of the 1950s and 1960s. It was during this time that Chicago initiated their efforts in support of civil rights. Notable among the materials from this time period are the reports detailing the annual Labor Conferences on Civil Rights. Sponsored by the Chicago JLC, these conferences brought civil rights leaders and union officials together in a discussion of how equality could be attained. Inaugurated in 1955, the conferences continued to be held until 1982. In the collection is material concerning the Labor Conferences for 1956, 1965, 1967-1974, 1976-1981, and 1986.
Beginning in the 1970s, much of the JLC s activity was directed in support of Israel and Soviet Jewry. Numerous letters of protest regarding the American government’s position with regard to these two areas reflect the JLC s lobbying efforts.
During the 1980s the Chicago JLC attempted to spark revitalization in their labor-oriented activities. Faced by a threatened dismantling of labor rights under the Reagan administration, the JLC sought to strengthen its connections to trade unions. An outgrowth of this effort was the Ethnic Labor Coalition, a coalition created by the Jewish Labor Committee in conjunction with the A. Philip Randolph Institute. The other agencies which formed this coalition were: Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Coalition of Labor Working Women, Hispanic American Labor Council, Italian-American Labor Council, Labor for Latin American Advancement, and Polish-American Labor Council.
· Malmgreen, Gail. "Labor and the Holocaust: The Jewish Labor Committee and the Anti-Nazi Struggle." Labor's Heritage, October 1991.
· Weiler, N. Sue "Freedom-Equality-Human Dignity-For All: Conferences on Civil Rights, Jewish Labor Committee." Typescript, n.d. 32pp. (Copy available at the Wagner Labor Archives.)
From the guide to the Jewish Labor Committee, Chicago Records and Photographs, 1952-1994, (Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive)
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|New York (N.Y.) |x History |y 20th century.|
|Sweden |x History |y 20th century.|
|Poland |x History |y 1918-1945.|
|France |x History |y 20th century.|
|France |x History |y 20th century.|
|Sweden |x History |y 20th century.|
|New York (N.Y.)|
|New York (N.Y.)|
|Poland |x History |y 1918-1945.|
|Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)|
|Jewish labor unions|
|Jewish labor unions|
|Jewish Trade Union|
|Labor Religious aspects Judaism|
|War resistance movements|
|World War, 1939-1945|
|World War, 1939-1945|
|World War, 1939-1945|