We Supported Our Troops
The Jewish Welfare Board

Home       l       Site Map      l      Exhibitions      l     About the Museum       l      Education      l     Contact Us       l      Links

From an article in the New York Tribune, dated November 10, 1918.

Jewish Welfare Board Cares for 100,000 Fighting Men.

National Body Cooperating with the War Department
Represents Important Jewish Societies.

The Jewish Welfare Board is a win-the-war organization that is helping the United States government to build up the morale of more than 100,000 Jewish men in the army and navy. It is a national body cooperating with and under the supervision of the War Department Commission on Training Camp Activities.

The board was created by the joint action of representatives from some ten or twelve national Jewish organizations to meet the emergencies precipitated by the war. The organizations represented in its councils are: Agudath Ha-Rabbonim, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Council of Y.M.H. and kindred associations, Independent Order B'rith
 Abraham, Jewish Publication Society of America, Council of Jewish Women, Independent Order B’nai B’rith, Jewish Chautauqua Society, Independent Order B'rith
 Sholom, United Synagogues of America, National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods, New York Board of Jewish Ministers, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations.

Its officers are: Colonel Harry Cutler, chairman; Dr. Cyrus Adler, vice-chairman; Chester J. Teller, secretary; Walter E. Sachs, treasurer.
Executive committee: Henry J. Bernheim, Abram I. Elkus, I. Edwin Goldwater, Rabbi Maurice H. Harris, Charles Hartman, Louis E. Kirstein, Justice Irving Lehman, Judge Julian W. Mack, Rabbi M. S. Margolies, Louis Marshall, Rabbi D. de Sola Pool, Rabbi William Rosenau, Joseph Rosenzweig, Bernard Semel, Mortimer L. Schiff and Israel Unterberg.

Civilians, when we go through this we need all the help and comfort you can give -
The Jewish Welfare Board/ Sidney H. Riesenberg.
From the Library of Congress.

1 print (poster) : lithograph, color ; 84 x 56 cm.



How the Work Is Carried On

The Jewish Welfare Board does its work:

1. In camp—(a) By sending trained workers to camps, cantonments, forts and naval training stations to provide for the recreational and spiritual needs of all men in uniform. (b) By erecting for their welfare buildings in camps with auditorium, rest and writing rooms, libraries with English, Yiddish and Hebrew literature, victrolas, pianos, etc. (c) By conducting religious services on Friday evenings, on all holidays, and on special occasions with the aide of the visiting and resident rabbis. (d) By having its representatives distribute among the boys various supplies, such as prayer books, Bibles and other necessary supplies. (e) By having its representatives perform a variety of personal services for the men, visiting them in the hospitals and barracks. (f) By arranging classes in English, history, Hebrew, current events, etc. (g) by arranging concerts, theatrical and minstrel shows, patriotic celebrations, lectures, debates, etc., in cooperation with the other welfare agencies.

2. In town—(a) By having branch organizations in over 150 cities, which have established community centres for soldiers and sailors containing rest, reading and social rooms, sleeping quarters, baths, etc. (b) Arrange send-offs to draftees in their towns. (c) Collect and distribute gifts among the boys. (d) Provide entertainments for visiting soldiers and sailors. (e) Obtain home hospitality for uniformed men on leave, (f) Perform a variety of personal services, such as looking after the welfare of parents and other relatives, corresponding with the men in the service, etc.

More than two hundred workers are in camps, and they include rabbis, teachers, social workers and professional and business men.

The Jewish Welfare Board maintains a training school at its headquarters, which provides a practical preliminary course in the history of the movement, policies and problems of camp and town work.

The Jewish Welfare Board has a staff of field supervisors who superintend the work of these representatives in the camps and in the communities in all sections of the country.

No Conflict With Other Groups

The work of the Jewish Welfare Board does not conflict or duplicate that of the Y.M.C.A.,K. of C., War Camp Community Service or any other welfare agency. The Jewish Welfare Board has a place of its own in camp life. It steps in where the other agencies would be less effective and it works with the other agencies, making the Jewish contribution to the larger welfare programme of the country.

Dr. John R. Mott, general secretary of the Y.M.C.A. and director general of the United War Work Campaign, says: “”The most distinctive vital function of the Jewish Welfare Board, is the safeguarding and developing of the religious life and conviction of your men. This cannot be done by any other organization or worker. It is a matter of utmost importance and fully justifies you in developing and carrying out a programme to make it possible.” The Jewish Welfare Board itself vigorously opposes any attempt at segregation. Its aim is, rather, to help the Jewish boys to adjust themselves to understand and sympathize with their Gentile brothers-in-arms and to be, in turn, understood by them.

The Jewish Welfare Board’s work is officially recognized upon the same basis as the Y.M.C.A. and K. of C. as the only Jewish agency authorized to do welfare work in the camps.

The work of the Jewish Welfare Board has been extended overseas. Headquarters have been established in Paris and are located at 41 Boulevard Haussmann. A special commission has returned from France with recommendations as to how the organization can render the most effective service, and their suggestions have been received by the executive committee. An overseas force of over one hundred men has been recruited.

Eight Jewish chaplains have been named to date, seven in the army and one in the navy. Six have already been sent overseas and others will follow shortly. Twenty-five additional chaplains are to be appointed, recommended by the Jewish Welfare Board to the War Department. The Jewish Welfare Board has coordinated all Jewish welfare work in the camps. Its administrative council represents all sections of the country and all elements and groups of Jewish life in America.

Every mail brings letters to the Jewish Welfare Board from the boys in the service, who have high praise for its work. “I can’t tell you what it meant to me to find the kindly smile and welcoming hand of your man,” said a soldier before he sailed overseas.

No Lack of Appreciation

A young dentist, who was generally disinterested in Jewish institutions, experienced a complete reversal of opinion, when he came in contact with the Jewish Welfare Board. He wrote of the strangeness and difficulties of his new camp life and of the facility with which the Jewish Welfare Board overcame them all. He said, “I am sorry that I can’t express to you all that the Jewish soldier feels toward the Jewish Welfare Board.”

“There is a debt of gratitude that we owe you, who are so anxious to make our boys feel at home, that we can never repay.” This is from a sister of a soldier.

From a parent: “It certainly is a comfort to know that although it is an impossibility for me to be with my son, there are others who are keeping a watchful eye over him and giving him the fellowship of a wonderful organization.”

A Catholic, before he sailed overseas, wrote: “I have only a few more hours before leaving, and do not want to depart from my adopted country without expressing my thanks to the Jewish Welfare Board for all the courtesies and favors which were accorded me at Camp Merritt, New Jersey, by your representatives. I am a Catholic, but I cannot help expressing by heartiest thanks to all your secretaries, and I sincerely hope that I can reciprocate some day what they have done for me.”

Major General J.F. Bell, U.S.A., formerly stationed at Camp Upton, said: “The Jewish Welfare Board has exceeded all expectations. In spite of tremendous obstacles at the outset, it has become one of the most efficient organizations in camp.”

Raymond B. Fosdick, director of the Commission on Training Camp Activities, in a letter to Colonel Cutler, said: “I want to express to you my hearty appreciation of your fine cooperative spirit in all the work we have jointly undertaken, as well as my realization of the many obstacles you have had to overcome and the difficulties that have faced you.” 







Home       |       Site Map       |      Exhibitions      |      About the Museum       |       Education      |      Contact Us       |       Links

Copyright © 2010. Museum of Family History.  All rights reserved. 
Image Use Policy.