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Board of Directors
Phillippe E. Baumann, Chairman
Andrea Baumann Lustig, President
Roger R. Baumann
Nadine D. Grelsamer
Ivan L. Lustig
Nicole Montalette

History of ARIF

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Well before the end of World War II hostilities, a group of French refugees urgently gathered in New York to try to address the needs of their Jewish brethren in France. On December 6, 1943, a meeting was held in Baron Edouard de Rothschild’s home in New York. Present were:

  • Baron Edouard de Rothschild
  • The Baron Robert de Rothschild
  • Rabbi Simon Langer
  • Raymond Baumann
  • Andre Meyer
  • Edouard Weil
  • Lazare Blum

There, they unanimously decided to form an association whose purpose would be to find solutions to the various problems confronting French Jews and Judaism following the war. They formed a provisional Executive Committee of the Association and reached out to their French contacts in New to establish a broader-based Board of Directors. Based on a proposal by Baron Edouard de Rothschild, the goals of the Association were determined. The activity of the Association would:

  • Focus on the reconstruction of Jewish communities (staff, cultural activities and objects etc.);
  • Provide general assistance where needed and help French Judaism in its work towards spiritual reconstruction.
  • Seek to cooperate with existing American associations who had the same purpose.

In May of 1944, A.R.I.F. was formally incorporated in the United States, and by October 1944 received tax exempt status as a religious corporation from the Treasury Department.

On June 6, 1944, the association formally adopted the name of: Association for the Reestablishment  of Jewish Works and Institutions in France (A.R.I.F.) and formed its first Board of Directors which included:

President  Baron Edouard de Rothschild


Baron Robert de Rothschild
Lazare Blum
André Meyer
Edmond Weil


Raymond Baumann


Rabbi Simon Langer

The French Government represented by its Washington representative, Mr. Hoppenot, granted formal support to the activities of A.R.I.F. in a letter dated September 1944. In the letter, the French Government expressed its gratitude with respect to the formation of A.R.I.F to ARIF’s President. In October 1944, the first fund raising appeal for A.R.I.F. raised $23,000 (equivalent to $2.8 million today)!

It is impossible, and would be rather monotonous, to enumerate, quote, and congratulate all those who throughout the years, from near and far, helped A.R.I.F. continue its work. However, it seems worthwhile to present the following lines which plunge us back into the atmosphere of half a century ago. They permit us to relive a few pages in ARIF’s history... and, therefore, a few pages of our shared history. The following lines are taken from a report written in extreme haste by Madame Fanny Schwab, the Director of the Jewish Social Assistance Works for the regions of Alsace and Lorraine 1944. This report was written with great urgency in order to be given to Mr. Leon Meis upon his return to the US:

"Devastated by shootings, massacres and deportations, wandering for weeks in the forest, seeking camouflage in caves and abandoned huts-- without opportunity to obtain adequate food, under constant terrible fear of discovery by the Germans, our fellow believers are totally impoverished. A large number of families who have been victims of fire or the looting carried out by barbarian hordes, face complete and utter poverty. Entire families have been exterminated or have disappeared. Many are the children saved by clandestine actions of the brave and, who are now orphans. Many are the disabled, elderly or the sick abandoned to their fate.

A census is underway and within a month we should be able to provide you with exact figures.

What are the immediate needs? The Jews in Alsace and in Lorraine find themselves facing a complete vacuum—they have nothing. They not only need to be clothed  but also to be furnished with linens and household articles-- box springs, mattresses and "furniture" which need be nothing more than crates, artisans and tradesmen need unsecured loans with which to reestablish themselves, children need serious vocational guidance. We expect 15,000 Jews to seek our help and anticipate needing a minimum budget of 1 million per region. We have already been in contact with the authorities and formal powers to be able to integrate our assistance in the social teams which will be sent on site.

A great task lies ahead of us-- after two years of absolute poverty—to try to engage a community which has suffered terribly in a reconstruction effort to restore a desire to work, a joie de vivre and, ultimately, confidence in a better future.

Articles Needed for Resettlement in Alsace and Lorraine.
Blankets, household linens of all kinds, sheets, pillowcases etc., ...bedding, horsehair and wool for mattresses or readymade mattresses, household goods such as pots, pans, bowls, plates, cutlery, washing material, etc...This report is written in haste in Paris a few hours before the departure of Mr. Meis to America by Miss Schwab, Director of the Works of Social Assistance, the 8 November 1944."

Following the retirement of Baron Edouard de Rothschild, others took the helm of A.R.I.F. including Baron Robert de Rothschild, Mr. Rene Sacerdote, la Baronne Robert (Lucy) de Gunzburg, and Rabbi Simon Langer. 

Mr. Philippe E. Baumann, whose father, Raymond Baumann (ARIF’s first Treasurer), became a member of the Executive Committee in 1972. In 1987, given the deteriorating health of Rabbi Langer, Mr. Baumann was elected President of A.R.I.F. Mr. Baumann also served as the Executive Vice President and Director of Stralem & Co., a New York investment management firm established in 1968, and was a member of the Alsatian Union New York. He modernized the structure of A.R.I.F.

Before his death in February 2012, Mr. Baumann retired as President, but continued to serve as Chairman for the rest of his life. His daughter, Andrea Baumann Lustig, succeeded him as President. Ms. Lustig represents the third generation of family involvement. She is also Vice President of Stralem & Co.

The future of A.R.I.F. is assured not only through ongoing annual donations but also by the continued involvement of families who have given life to ARIF since its inception.

Recently, A.R.I.F. participated with the World Monument Fund in the reconstruction of the Synagogue in Pfaffenhoffen in Alsace, a building dating back to before the 1800s. Aware of its reconstruction, Mr. Baumann, guided by the Grand Rabbi Rene Guttman of Strasbourg, visited the city during the reconstruction work.  Rabbi Guttman, whose research ARIF has also supported, received the French Legion of Honor.

The need for religious, social and cultural support for French Judaism provided by A.R.I.F. for more than a half century is far from fulfilled. While it may evolve in the future, A.R.I.F. will remain true to its almost seventy-year-old mission: to provide support for Jewish works and institutions in France.