Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Know Your Jewish Community: The AJC
AJC can stand for American Jewish Committee or American Jewish Congress. This post is about the former. Before I get into the "hard" questions, here is a biographical sketch of the AJC.
Founded/Original Purpose: The American Jewish Committee was founded in
1906 by a small group of New York Jews who were worried about the fate of Jews in Russia where pogroms (state sponsored or sanctioned riots/massacres) were a constant threat.
History: The American Jewish Committee was founded in 1906 as what historian Naomi Cohen calls a “national Jewish defense organization.” Born out of an escalating concern for the interests of worldwide Jewry, specifically those in Czarist Russia, in the early years of World War I the AJC was primarily involved with the welfare of Jews abroad, specifically those in the areas of the Ottoman Empire that the Balkan states had conquered. During the course of World War I the AJC’s focus shifted “and for the duration the Committee placed its emphasis on proving the complete patriotism of American Jewry. Not only did it lavish praise on Jews serving in the armed forces, but it also initiated an ambitious project, involving much time and money, of gathering statistics on all Jewish servicemen.” After WWI the AJC's focus returned to the plight of Jews abroad, and has remained focused on what American Jews can do for Jews outside of America, specifically by improving the climate in which they live by combating bigotry and hate.
Mission: The AJC's mission is to safeguard the welfare and security of Jews in the United States, in Israel, and throughout the world; to strengthen the basic principles of pluralism around the world as the best defense against anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry; and to enhance the quality of American Jewish life by helping to ensure Jewish continuity and deepen ties between American and Israeli Jews.
Key People: E. Robert Goodkind, President; David A. Harris, Executive Director. No listing of the board found online.
Offices: Two main offices, one in New York City, and one in Washington, DC. There are 33 offices across America, as well as offices in Berlin, Brussels, Geneva, Jerusalem, and Warsaw. The AJC also maintains "posts" in 20 other countries.
Key Programs: Hard to narrow down, because there are so many, but the AJC offers Goldman Fellowships for 15 undergraduate and graduate students in Domestic and International Affairs. Probably the program of most interest to “our” generation is ACCESS, which they describe as “AJC's national new generation program that aims to inspire and involve people in their 20s and 30s in the work of AJC, spanning the most critical domestic and international issues facing the Jewish community today.” One of ACCESS' programs is a service trip to New Orleans.
Publications: The American Jewish Yearbook 1899-Present; AJC Radio 1939-1955; Commentary Magazine, Project Identity, 9 posters created by students between 2002-2004 to educate their peers on the situation in Israel
Annual Budget: $38,007,000 (according to Slingshot '06)
Little Known Facts: The American Jewish Committee has the largest collection of oral histories of any Jewish organization.
Any questions you want to ask the AJC? Post them as comments, and I'll see what I can do