The World Jewish Congress is the international organization that represents Jewish communities and organizations in 100 countries around the world. It advocates on their behalf towards governments, parliaments, international organizations and other faiths. The WJC represents the plurality of the Jewish people, and is politically non-partisan.
The Talmudic phrase “Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh beZeh" ("All Jews are responsible one to another"), encapsulates the raison d’être of the WJC. Since its foundation in 1936, in Geneva, Switzerland, the WJC has been at the forefront of fighting for the rights of Jews and Jewish communities around the world.
The WJC, the ‘Diplomatic Arm of the Jewish People’, has been active in countless campaigns since its inception: advocating for justice for Holocaust victims and their heirs, including the payment of reparations for hardship suffered under the Nazi’s; protecting the memory of the Holocaust; obtaining restitution of, or compensation for, stolen Jewish property, and negotiating a settlement with the Swiss Banks for assets held in so-called ‘dormant’ accounts; campaigning for the right of Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel, for those who wished, or to stay and practice their religion freely; exposing Austrian President and former UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim for lying about his wartime past; countering anti-Semitism and the de-legitimization of Israel; and continually supporting the State and People of Israel in their struggle to live in peace with their neighbors.
For decades, the WJC has also maintained privileged relations with the Holy See in developing dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church. The Congress is also engaged in fostering interfaith relations with other Christian churches, representatives of Islamic communities, and other faiths.
Headed by President Ronald S. Lauder, the WJC Executive Committee meets regularly to conduct the affairs of the WJC. The WJC Governing Board meets annually, and the WJC Plenary Assembly, which takes place every four years, brings together delegates from all affiliated Jewish communities and organizations to elect WJC leadership and set policy for the Congress.