Fondation OPEJ
Baron Edmond de Rothschild

Over its 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.

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 group 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

Edmond de Rothschild assumed its presidency in 1969, donating the Château de Maubuisson north of Paris for use as a home for OPEJ youth. In 1981, under his guidance, the organisation was opened to children regardless of faith, cultural or family background. 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 daughter, Noémie.

In 2012, the association’s property and public service recognition were transferred to the newly-instituted OPEJ Foundation - Baron Edmond de Rothschild. Through a partnership with France’s national child welfare services, the Foundation is entrusted with the protection of children and youth from all forms of abuse, neglect and abandonment and is empowered to take legal action in their interest. True to its mission of encouraging resilience and healthy development through enduring social connections, OPEJ maintains two homes for children and youth in the Paris region, offers special education programs and outdoor activities, and provides abuse prevention services and drop-in centres for young people and their families.

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