It was founded in November 1939 by the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada (Agudath Harabbanim). It was originally named Emergency Committee for War-Torn Yeshivas and it is often referred to as "the Rescue Committee" also formally named: Vaad ha-Hatzala in Hebrew.
Recognizing that following the law would lead to greater numbers of Jews being murdered, the Vaad sometimes used means that were illegal.
For example, the Polish government in exile in Bern sent coded cables to New York City on behalf of the Vaad and related Jewish organizations. This avoided the strict American censors and allowed messages from Nazi-controlled Europe to reach Jewish rescuers. The American State Department had issued orders to block messages coming from Europe regarding news of the Nazis extermination of the Jews.
- Wyman, David (1984). The Abandonment of the Jews. p. 46. ISBN 0-394-42813-7.
- Wyman, David (1984). The Abandonment of the Jews. p. 186. ISBN 0-394-42813-7.
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