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Philadelphia’s Jewish community is one of the oldest in North America. For more than a century, the Jewish Federation has been there to support that community, responding to major events, meeting urgent needs and strengthening Jewish traditions.

In the Beginning

The Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia was founded as the Federation of Jewish Charities in 1901, uniting nine agencies into a single effort to help the Philadelphia Jewish community.  Since its creation, it has grown steadily, expanding its range of services to help Jews in Greater Philadelphia, in Israel and throughout the world.

In Times of Greatest Need

During the Great Depression, the Federation of Jewish Charities joined with the non-sectarian Welfare Federation of Philadelphia (the precursor of the United Way) to help thousands suffering from hunger, poverty and despair. Philadelphia’s Allied Jewish Appeal and the national United Jewish Appeal were organized in 1938 and 1939 respectively, to cope with Nazi persecution.

In 1957, the Federation of Jewish Charities and the Allied Jewish Appeal merged to become the Federation of Jewish Agencies of Greater Philadelphia, with 26 constituent agencies. During the decades that followed, the Jewish Federation, through its Federation Allied Jewish Appeal campaign (known today as the Jewish Community Fund), raised millions of dollars each year to provide vital services and programs to the Jewish community.

The Jewish Federation has a proud history of supporting the people of Israel, especially during times of most urgent need. In 1967, the Jewish Federation launched a special campaign in response to the Six-Day War that Israel fought with Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Syria. In 1973, another special campaign responded to the Yom Kippur War, when Egypt and Syria jointly attacked Israel.

Evolving to Meet New Challenges

To meet emerging needs and expectations in a changing environment, the Jewish Federation’s roles and responsibilities have continuously grown. In 1990, it adopted the name Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia to reflect its role as the central non-profit Jewish community organization in this region.

In 2016, the Jewish Federation launched new branding and messaging to reflect its unique role as the Greater Philadelphia Jewish communities’ convener, fundraiser and grant maker, and its commitment to mobilizing our combined resources, making everyone feel included, and strengthening our values and traditions.