MALBEN (Heb. initials מוֹסְדוֹת לְטִפּוּל בְּעוֹלִים נֶחֱשָׁלִים, Mosedotle-Tippul be-Olim Neḥshalim – "Institutions for the Care of Handicapped Immigrants"), agency of the american jewish joint distribution committee (JDC) for the care of aged, infirm, and handicapped immigrants in Israel. Its funds are derived mainly from the united jewish Appeal. The mass immigration after Israel declared its independence included thousands of old people – often the last survivors of families destroyed by the Nazis; victims of tuberculosis acquired in the concentration camps or Middle East ghettos; and others physically or emotionally incapacitated by poverty, wartime suffering, or Nazi persecution. In 1949, Malben was founded by the JDC to relieve the Israel government of the burden of caring for these immigrants. It constructed a network of about a hundred institutions, converting army barracks and whatever buildings were available into old-age homes, hospitals, TB sanitariums, sheltered workshops, and rehabilitation centers. Once emergency needs were under control, Malben began to consolidate its programs of direct care, while cooperating with other agencies to create more municipal and regional facilities for the aged and handicapped, and to develop indirect services which would enable elderly people to live on their own as long as possible. These measures include cash relief, constructive loans to help the aged and handicapped to earn a living, employment assistance, home medical care and housekeeping services, and the establishment of "Golden Age" clubs to provide elderly people with facilities for social and community life. Malben also cooperates with the government, the Jewish Agency, and the municipalities in the fields of mental health, chronic illness, and the care of physically and mentally handicapped children and adults among the settled population. Between 1949 and 1968, Malben-JDC helped some 250,000 immigrants – every fifth newcomer and one in ten of the population – at a total cost of $164 million. It maintained a hospital for chronic invalids, 12 old-age homes and villages with 3,000 beds, and extramural services for some 48,000 persons. By the end of 1975 all the homes, hospitals, and other programs initiated by Malben had been handed over to the government and local authorities. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Doors to Life (1968). (Misha Louvish)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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