At a time when there is a plethora of Jewish organizations, nearly all known by their initials, it is easy to confuse or even overlook the WJC, or World Jewish Congress. However, no one who reads even a few pages of this new volume is likely to make that mistake again, for it touches on virtually every major Jewish issue of the last seventy years and describes the central role played by the WJC.
In his fact-packed introduction, Menachem Rosensaft paints a vivid picture of an organization that was overshadowed by scandal in spite of its important mission, and how with new leadership it recovered and became possibly the most influential organization dedicated to protecting Jewish interests wherever in the world they were threatened.
In twenty-two essays by some of the world’s foremost authorities on the principal issues facing the Jewish people, we learn how the WJC facilitated the heroic work of Raoul Wallenberg in Hungary during the Holocaust, and negotiated with the governments of Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria to enable their Jewish citizens to escape to France, Israel, and elsewhere during the 1950s. From the halls of the United Nations to the vaults of Swiss bankers, the WJC mustered its resources. Unlike books written after the fact by scholars, the essays in this volume are the work of either participants in the events themselves or leaders who influenced them. Among the contributors are Edgar Bronfman, Monsignor Pier Francesco Fumagalli — who was instrumental in changing relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish community — Robert Singer, and Rabbi Stephen Wise.
In addition to listing the names and biographical sketches of the contributors, the book has an Index and “Endnotes” section with detailed footnotes.
The World Jewish Congress, 1936 – 2016 not only makes for fascinating reading but also reminds us how much progress has been made in the last eighty years, and the great challenges that lie ahead.