DP Terms Glossary

Aliyah Bet

Aliyah Bet- meaning "Aliyah 'B'" was the code name given to illegal immigration of Jewish to the British Mandate of Palestine. It was distinguished from Aliyah Aleph ("Aliyah 'A'") the limited Jewish legal immigration, that the British did alow to enter Palestine. There were two phases of Aliyah Bet. The first, just before and during World War Two was aimed at rescuing European Jews from the Holocaust. The second phase, which took place from the end of the war until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 concentrated on transporting into Palestine Jewish survivors, especially those housed in DP Camps. Aliyah Bet transports were organized by the Mossad l’Aliyah Bet, a part of the Haganah.

Beth Jacob

Beth Jacob- Orthodx Jewish schools for girls and young women. Since Talmud Torahs and Yeshivas would traditionally only teach boys,  The Beth Jacob movement was started  in Poland in early XX century in order to create Jewish school system for females, who up to then could only attend non-Jewish schools.


Brichah- (Hebrew: escape or flight) clandestine organization of illegal emigration of about 250,000 Jews, mainly from Poland via transit camps, to Palestine. Initially organised by the leaders of Polish Zionist fighting groups, including Icchak Zuckerman and Abba Kovner, Brichah used its elaborate smuggling network to transport people into DP camps and then through the British cordon into Palestine. The organization ended with the establishment of Israel after the new state opened it gates to Jewish immigrants from Europe.

Central Committee

Central Committee of the Liberated Jews in Germany (Tsentral Komitet fun di Bafreite Yidn in Daytshland)- the official representative bodies of Jewish DPs in the American and British zone of Germany. The first representation of survivors in the British Zone- the camp committee in Bergen Belsen was established in April 1945- only three days after the liberation of the camp. The committee, led by a Bergen Belsen survivor Josef Rosensaft, later developed into the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in the British Zone. The Central Committee in the US zone was founded on July 1, 1945, at the first meeting of representatives of American zone Jewish DP camps held in Feldafing. Its president became Dr. Zalman Grinberg. The central committees played a key role in organizing lives of the DPs. They coordinating family tracing efforts and emigration, conducted historical documentation and organized education, cultural and religious live in the camps.


Cheder-  a traditional Jewish elementary school, which was popular in Eastern Europe before the Holocaust. Cheder in Hebrew means ‘room’. Traditionally, cheder classes were held in the private house of the teacher, the Melamed. Students, usually boys, aged 5 to 13, were taught in small groups and studied Judaism and the Hebrew language.


Displaced Persons (DPs)- people who were forced to leave their native country, often as a result of an armed conflict.  The term was first widely used during World War II, most commonly to refer to those who had to leave their home countries as refugees,prisoners or a slave laborers

DP Camps

DP Camps- Displaced Persons Camps started as improvised shelter for about one million people, including 50.000 Jews who refused or were unable to come back after the end of 1945 to the country of their origin. DP camps were primarily organized in Germany, Austria and Italy and located in former military barracks, but also included summer camps for children, hotels, castles, hospitals, private homes, and even partly destroyed structures. The administration of the camps was in the hands of occupying allied military authorities UNRRA, but later was de facto overtaken by DP’s organizations. By 1952 all but one DP camp was closed. The last DP camp, Fohrenwald closed in 1957.


Exodus 1947- the ship that carried Jewish emigrants, mainly Holocaust survivors with no immigration certificates from France to the British controlled Palestine. Most of the emigrants were Holocaust survivor refugees, who had no legal immigration certificates to Palestine. Following wide media coverage, theBritish Royal Navy seized the ship, and deported all its passengers back to Europe.


Haganah (Hebrew-Defence) Zionist resistance organization, opposing the British Mandate in Palestine.


Halutzim- members of the Zionist scouts/pioneer movement. Between the wars, members of the Hehalutz promoted immigration (Aliyah) to Erets Israel.


Infiltrees- Holocaust survivors, mainly from Eastern Europe, who illegaly crossed the border to enter into Austria, Germany and Italy. 

Jewish Agency

Jewish Agency for Israel- a pre-state Jewish government, Zionist organization at the head of the Jewish community in Palestine during the time of the British Mandate. In May 1948, after the establishment of the state of Israel, Jewish Agency led by David Ben-Gurion became the provisional government of the state.

Jewish Brigade

Jewish Brigade-The Jewish Brigade Group, a military formation of the British Army, was formally established in September 1944. The Jewish Brigade fought in Italy against the Germans until May 1945 and was later stationed in Europe, where it helped establish DP camps. Members of the Jewish Brigade, along the Hagana were also involved in organized the Brichah- a clandestine flight of people from central and Eastern Europe into Palestine


Joint (The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee) was founded in 1914, as a result of a merge of three American Jewish charitable organizations, in order to raise founds and distribute aid among Palestinian and Eastern European Jews. After the Nazi got to power in 1933, the Joint concentrated on organizing immigration and financial help for German and Austrian refugees During the Second World War it conducted underground relief work in German-occupied countries.  After the war the Joint became the main organization providing financial help for Holocaust survivors, especially those gathered in DP camps. It also assisted in organizing Jewish emigration and after establishment of the state of Israel facilitated immigration to the new state.


Kibbutz- a collective farm or settlement. Its members (kibbutzniks) live and work together and share their property. Before establishment of the state of Israel,  Kibbutzim in Europe, including those in DP camps, were usually founded by Zionist youth and group young people who later wanted to immigrate to Palestine.


Mikvah- A ritual bath, used to regain purity after and before events specified in Judaism by religious regulations and traditions, such as before certain Jewish Holidays or after menstruation and childbirth. Mikvahs usually take shape of pools filled with natural water, most often rain water. According to Jewish Law the mikvah is to be constructed in a Jewish community before building of a synagogue.


OSE- OEuvre de secours aux enfants, Society for Rescuing Children- a French Jewish organization which was very active in helping Jewish children during the Holocaust. After the war, OSE set up a number of children's homes for Jewish children.

She'erith Hapleitah

She’erith Hapleitah- a biblical term, first used in Genesis 32:9, signifying the Surviving Remnant. After World War Two the term was used in broad sense in reference to all  Jews who survived in Europe after the Holocaust, in particular to around 300,000 Jews gathered in the DP camps in Italy, Germany and Austria. The term She’erith Hapleitah links physical survival of the extermination with the rebirth of Jewish life in Palestine.

Talmud Torah

Talmud Torah- Jewish elementary school that puts emphasis on religious studies. Initially, talmud torahs were created to help children from poor families in obtaining good quality of education and replace the privately-owned cheders. Talmud Torah was meant to prepare students for entering the yeshiva or other form of secondary-level education.


Tarbut Schools- A network of secular Zionist, Hebrew-language schools which was developed in Eastern and Central Europe in the first half of XX century.


UNRRA- United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration was founded in June 1943 to provide aid to areas liberated from the Axis powers. As part of its welfere program UNRRA distributed billions of dollars worth of aid founding shelter, food and rehabilitatiobn programs as well as helped repatriate about 7 million post-war refugees. UNRRA ceased its operation in Europe in 1947 and in Asia in 1949. Its functions were transfered to other UN Agencies, including International Refugee Organization (IFO) and United Nations Children’s Found (UNICEF).


Yeshiva- A traditional institute of advanced rabbinic learning where students, usually male, study Judaism’s religious texts, especially the Talmud


Zionism-  Jewish nationalism movement supporting establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. Zionism was formally established in the late 19th century as a response to growing anti-Semitism in Central and Eastern Europe. After Holocaust Zionism intensified its activities and became the dominant Jewish political movement. The movement reached its primary goal in 1948 , with the establishment of the state of Israel.