American Jewish Committee. Subgroup: Executive Offices. Morris Waldman Files. Records.
Morris David Waldman was born in Bartfa, Hungary in 1879. He came to the United States at the age of four and was educated at New York University (Ph.B., 1898), the Jewish Theological Seminary (1895-1898), and Columbia University Graduate School of Semitics and Philosophy (1898-1901). He was a lecturer in Social Science at Columbia University (1916-1918). He was rabbi of Temple Anshe Emeth in New Brunswick, New Jersey (1900-1903), and in 1906-1908, he directed the “Galveston Project,” which sought to distribute the incoming flux of East European Jewish immigrants from the east coast to midwestern and western portions of the United States. During the latter period, Waldman was also active with the IRO (Industrial Removal Office), whose scope was similar to that of the Galveston Project.
From 1908-1917 he was managing director of the United Hebrew Charities of New York City and introduced many pioneering procedures, which were later employed in the field of social work.
He served as vice-president of the New York State Conference of Charities and Correction in 1912, and president of the New York City Conference of Charities in 1915. In 1917, he became a trustee of the Federation for the support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies of New York City, and in 1919, he was made a trustee of the Federation’s board. During this same period, Waldman served as treasurer of the Jewish Agricultural Society, and was instrumental in establishing the Federation of Jewish Charities of Boston, of which he was elected an honorary life-long trustee. Similarly, he reorganized the Federations of Jewish Charities in Boston, Brooklyn, and Detroit.
Between 1921-1922, Waldman organized relief for the Central European Jewish communities, was director of the medico-sanitary and the orphans’ departments of the American Joint Distribution Committee; for a short period, he was chairman of the European Council. He was instrumental in creating nurses’ training programs and X-ray services into Jewish hospitals in Poland and neighboring countries. He was also responsible for introducing a comprehensive and widespread program of public healthcare in Eastern and Southeastern Europe.
In 1928, he became executive secretary to the American Jewish Committee. In conjunction with his work at the AJC, Waldman was primarily concerned with protecting the civil and religious rights of Jews throughout the world.
In his professional capacity, Waldman’s work focused heavily on Jewish affairs in foreign countries, including Poland. He visited Poland several times, meeting with government officials, diplomats, and members of the Polish intelligentsia in an effort to improve the treatment of Jews there. During World War II, Waldman reported on the efforts being made by American Jews to rescue Jews in Nazi-occupied territories, most notably Poland.
As an opponent of Jewish nationalism, he was active in the non-Zionist section of the Jewish Agency. After the Nazi persecutions of 1933 and the outbreak of World War II, he attempted unsuccessfully to narrow the gap that existed between the Zionists and the largely non-Zionist American Jewish Committee, in preparation for the peace conference anticipated at the close of the war. He later favored the establishment of the State of Israel.
In 1945, for reasons of health, Waldman retired from his professional position. He wrote two books, an autobiography, Not by Power (1953), and Sieg Heil: The Story of Adolph Hitler (1962). He died at age 83 in 1963.
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