Fondation OPEJ
Baron Edmond de Rothschild

Over its more than 75-year history, the OPEJ - Baron Edmond de Rothschild Foundation has offered thousands of young people the educational support, comfort and protection necessary for their healthy integration into society. Its original name – the Œuvre de Protection des Enfants Juifs – serves as a reminder of the Resistance network that came to the aid of Jewish children hidden during the Second World War, the SERE (Service d’évacuation et de regroupement des enfants).

In 1942-1943, after the Vichy regime passed anti-Semitic laws resulting in tens of thousands of Jews being handed over to the German occupier and sent to death camps, a clandestine network was created to hide Jewish children. After the Liberation, this network became a legally-recognized child welfare association. OPEJ opened 17 children's homes across France to welcome children of deportees, many of whom had hidden in the French countryside, as well as those returning from concentration camps.

During the second half of the 20th century, events marking the Jewish community in France and abroad would continue to impact OPEJ. Sociological changes in France’s Jewish community and advances in social legislation would pave the way for the association’s recognition as a public service organisation in 1957.

Edmond de Rothschild
1926 - 1997

In 1968, Baron Edmond de Rothschild made available the Château de Maubuisson in Saint-Ouen l'Aumône (Val d'Oise) to accommodate the children of the OPEJ in Pontault-Combault, whose house had been taken over by the municipality. Baron Edmond de Rothschild becomes a director of the association and then, after the death of Marius Moutet, President. Nadine de Rothschild continued this work after her husband’s death. OPEJ was overseen by Benjamin de Rothschild until his death, a mission carried on today by his wife, Ariane, and their daughters, Noémie and Olivia.

In 2012, the association was reinstituted as the OPEJ - Baron Edmond de Rothschild Foundation. Its stated purpose is “to protect, listen to and come to the aid of children, adolescents and youth in difficulty as well as their families, regardless of origin”.

True to its mission of encouraging resilience and healthy development through enduring social connections, OPEJ maintains, in addition to its two homes for children in the Val-d’Oise and Hauts-de-Seine, nine daytime centres to accompany children, youth and their families. These include three specialised prevention centres in the Val-d’Oise and Paris, one open-air educational support centre and a family and educational daytime drop-in centre at Sarcelles, a youth drop-in centre, family mediation centre and daytime drop-in centre in Paris, as well as a daytime educational support space for families at Rueil-Malmaison.   

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Children at the Reuil-Malmaison Youth Home, late 1940s. © OPEJ Archives

Children at the Rueil-Malmaison Youth Home, late 1940s. © OPEJ Archives

OPEJ pamphlet (verso), 1948. © OPEJ Archives

A party at the Rueil-Malmaison Youth Home, 1975. © OPEJ Archives

Children at the Maison d’enfants de Rueil-Malmaison, 1987. © OPEJ Archives
A party at the Reuil-Malmaison Youth Home, late 1980s. © OPEJ Archives
Performance of “Le goût de Perlimpinin”, OPEJ Foundation Gala, Cabaret Sauvage, 2016. © OPEJ Archives
Meeting race-car drivers Alexandre Brasseur and Pierre le Gloahec, Tour Auto Optic 2000, Grand Palais, Paris, 2015.
Vegetable garden at the Château de Maubuisson Children’s Home, 2013. © OPEJ Archives

In a dorm room at the Reuil-Malmaison Youth Home, 2013.

Children from OPEJ with Ariane de Rothschild, OPEJ Foundation Gala, Cabaret Sauvage, 2016. © OPEJ Archives