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Our History

We were founded in 1933 to support Jews in Nazi occupied Europe. Since then, we have been providing life-saving and life-changing action to those in crisis.

1933 – 1948: Rescuing Jews from Nazi persecution

We are proud of the role we played in supporting Jews before, during and after the Holocaust, under the name the Central British Fund (CBF) for German Jewry. In 1938, we rescued almost 10,000 mostly Jewish children on the Kindertransport before war broke out. We provided them with housing and education on their arrival in the UK. Over the course of this period, we rescued over 65,000 Jews fleeing Nazi persecution. 

From 1956: Evacuating global Jewish communities from crises

We helped thousands of Jews to escape life-threatening situations. We were quick to respond when crises emerged, such as in Egypt, Czechoslovakia and Ethiopia. During the Suez Crisis for example, we brought 622 Jewish families to safety in the UK.  

 

From 1989: Working in Eastern Europe

When the Iron Curtain collapsed in 1989, our attention turned to Eastern Europe where its 2 million Jews had plunged into extreme poverty. Since then we have rebuilt Jewish communities, improved living conditions for elderly and vulnerable Jews, and helped a younger generation find sustainable employment. 

From 2004: Becoming a global humanitarian agency

In December 2004 we launched our first Emergency Appeal following the Boxing Day Tsunami. During our relief efforts, we supported thousands of people in Sri Lanka, and have since become the Jewish community’s leading global humanitarian agency.

From 2016: Supporting refugees arriving in the UK

We launched our Specialist Training and Employment Programme (STEP) in response to the growing refugee crisis. We have been helping refugees arriving in the UK, including those from Syria, Afghanistan and Ukraine to learn English, find employment and integrate into their new lives.   

2022 – Today: Our Ongoing Response to the Ukraine Crisis

February 2022 marked the start of our unparalleled response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. We used our trusted network of local partners across Ukraine, developed over 30 years of working in the country, to deliver rapid and effective relief. We focussed our efforts in Ukraine itself, accessing hard to reach communities and vulnerable people on the front-line of the conflict, where the need is greatest.