MILWAUKEE – Jewish Family Services was born 150 years ago, as the Hebrew Relief Society, in 1867.
It has had five different names along the way. JFS has a humanitarian history of helping children, youth, seniors and refugees, providing services which include therapy, vocational services, childcare and safe havens for immigrants, refugees and orphans.
JFS has changed with the times, including in the aftermath of World War II, when they provided emotional support and a social network for Jewish Holocaust survivors. JFS has provided services to the Jewish community of Milwaukee, with efforts aimed at positive impacts on individual lives.
Jewish Family Services held a 150th Anniversary Kick Off Event on Oct. 26 at Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun. Here’s a timeline of some the history now being celebrated.
1867—Hebrew Relief Society founded
1921—Hebrew Relief Society renamed Jewish Social Services Association (JSSA)
1924—JSSA establishes Jewish Children’s Home, which benefits a number of refugee children
1926—JSSA hires first professional social worker
1929—Stock market crashes. JSSA implements Jewish Vocational Services
1941—JSSA creates first nursery and day care center in Milwaukee known as the Child Care Center at University Wisconsin-Milwaukee. JSSA establishes Department of Services to Aging, an at-home care service for the elderly
1948—JSSA merges with the Milwaukee Jewish Children’s Home and the agency was renamed Jewish Family and Children’s Services (JFCS)
1967—JFCS 100th year anniversary
1970s—JFCS extends social services to hippie movement
1973—JFCS moves to the Helfaer community service building, 1360 N. Prospect Ave. First volunteer-coordinator hired, which evolves into the Volunteer Services Department
1977—JFCS celebrates 110 year anniversary. JFCS establishes the Child Development Center providing child-care for working mothers. JFCS establishes Family Life Education, a family counseling program
1987—JFCS name changes to Jewish Family Services
1988—JFS establishes Jewish Community Task Force on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse
1992—JFS celebrates 125th year anniversary
1990—Milwaukee Jewish Federation gives grant to start Subsidized Home Care
2010—JFS begins Helping Offenders Process Emotions (H.O.P.E.) program, mental health therapy for men previously convicted of domestic abuse against their partner
2014—JFS provides mental health services to residents at Jewish Home and Care Center and Chai Point
2017—JFS celebrates 150th year anniversary of service to the Jewish community of Milwaukee
Sources: The Chronicle; JFSmilw.org.