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Our History

1890s

1895: Federation of Jewish Charities of Boston is established on April 25.

  • Approximately 489 people respond to the Federation's appeal, donating $11,909.
  • Member organizations includes United Hebrew Benevolent Society, Hebrew Ladies Sewing Society, Leopold Morse Home for the Aged and Infirm Hebrews and Orphanage, Free Employment Bureau, and Charitable Burial Association.
  • Boston's Jewish population is estimated at 20,000, including 14,000 new immigrants.

1900s

1907:

  • Boston's Jewish population triples to 60,000.

1908:

  • Federated Jewish Charities (a broader-based organization) is established on January 8.
  • Federation provides services outside of Boston for the first time.
  • Nearly 4,000 women raise funds for the Beth Israel Hospital association.
  • On April 12, the Great Chelsea Fire devastates the local community, leaving 15,000 homeless, including 5,000 Orthodox Jews. Jewish community responds vigorously.

1910s:

1911:

  • Martha Michaels Silverman becomes the first woman professional to lead the Federation.

1917:

  • Federated Jewish Charities reorganizes and renames as Federated Jewish Charities of Boston.
  • Annual campaign increases from $70,000 to $250,000.
  • Britain's passage of the Balfour Declaration (the promise of a Jewish homeland in Palestine) fuels Zionist fever, particularly in Boston, a stronghold of Zionist activity.
  • Boston's Jewish population grows to 77,000.

1918:

  • Federated Jewish Charities of Boston is the first Federation to allocate funds in support of Jewish education.
  • Jewish Big Brother Association is founded.

1920s

1920:

  • Bureau of Jewish Education is formed.
  • Jewish Big Brother Association joins the Federation.

1921:

  • Hebrew Teachers Training School, the antecedent of Hebrew College, is founded.

1924:

  • Federation raises $440,698.

1930s

1930:

  • Federation renamed as Associated Jewish Philanthropies and institutes a program of professionally directed fundraising—$572,670 is raised.
  • Boston's Jewish population begins moving from the South and West Ends and East Boston to Dorchester and Mattapan.

1934:

  • Boston Committee for Refugees is established to aid European immigrants.

1935:

  • The Depression takes its toll on fundraising—the 1935 campaign raises only two-thirds as much as had been raised in the previous five years.
  • Nuremburg Laws deprive German Jews of citizenship.

1937:

  • Greater Boston United Jewish Campaign organizes to meet the needs of Jews in Palestine and in the U.S., and particularly refugees in Boston who had fled Nazi Germany.

1938:

  • Boston Committee for Jewish Refugees becomes a Federation agency.
  • Jewish Vocational Service is established and is part of the tradition of Jewish communal services whose foundations were laid in the 19th century.
  • Kristallnacht—Night of Broken Glass—in Germany occurs on November 9. Ninety-one Jews are murdered and 25,000 to 30,000 are arrested and placed in concentration camps.
  • Boston's Jewish population now at 118,000.

1940s

1940:

  • Federation streamlines campaign structure and creates the Combined Jewish Appeal to mount one campaign for all agencies—the first major community in the country to do so. Campaign secures 5,000 new gifts.

1944:

  • Jewish Centers Association for Greater Boston is organized.
  • Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC)—with 22 member organizations—is established. Campaign raises $2,231,519.

1945:

  • One-hundred-year anniversary of Boston's Jewish community.
  • Fifty-year anniversary of Jewish philanthropy in Greater Boston.
  • V-E (Victory in Europe) Day on May 8.

1946:

  • Boston Jewish community focuses on Holocaust survivors in Europe and mobilizes for a 24-hour SOS (Supplies for Our Survivors) Campaign, collecting more than 2.5 million pounds of food, clothing and medicine for survivors in displaced persons camps.
  • The Combined Jewish Appeal campaign raises nearly $7 million.
  • Jewish Family & Children's Service (JF&CS) is established.
  • Brookline-Brighton-Newton Jewish Community Center opens on Harvard Street, Brookline.
  • Boston's Jewish population begins moving from West and North Ends and East Boston and Chelsea to Roxbury, Dorchester, Brookline and Newton.

1948:

  • 60,000 Boston Jews raise $8.5 million.
  • Brandeis University opens.
  • State of Israel is founded on May 14. On May 15, the Arab nations invade Israel.
  • Boston's Jewish population grows to 137,000.

1950s

1951:

  • Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion arrives in Boston for a rally at Boston Garden.

1952:

  • Brookline-Brighton-Newton JCC moves to Cleveland Circle, Brighton.

1956:

  • The Sinai Campaign—Israel launches military operations against Egypt on October 29.

1960s

1960:

  • Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) forms with the merger of the Combined Jewish Appeal and Associated Jewish Philanthropies.

1963:

  • CJP creates a long-range plan to examine the needs of the Greater Boston Jewish population and project the general direction of Jewish community services for the future.

1965:

  • CJP conducts demographic survey.
  • Jewish population at 176,000 (208,000 including North Shore and western suburbs).
  • Younger Jews now living in the south suburbs, Brookline and Brighton, Newton and Wellesley, Framingham and Natick.

1967:

  • The Six Day War—Israel launches pre-emptive attacks against Egypt on June 5.

1969:

  • Jewish Family & Children's Service (JF&CS) begins an outreach program to serve the elderly in Roxbury/Dorchester/Mattapan—population there drops from 50,000 to 6,000.

1970s

1971:

  • CJP opens an elderly/teenage drop-in center in Dorchester.
  • CJP begins to fund day schools.

1973:

  • Yom Kippur War Campaign raises a record $17.3 million.
  • Russian Resettlement Program is started as Jews begin to emigrate from USSR.
  • The Yom Kippur War—Egypt and Syria attack Israel on October 6.

1975:

  • Demographic study shows Boston's Jewish population is contracting. There are only 195,000 Jews in the overall geographic area, and 165,000 in CJP communities.
  • Jewish community continues to migrate south and west, leaving significant numbers in Boston, Brookline and Newton, but creating substantial new population clusters in the south, north and west.
  • Synagogue membership drops and intermarriage among those under 30 increases.

1976:

  • CJP leaders make a crucial and controversial decision to build facilities that serve the community where it lives, beginning in the western suburbs, to attract Jews dispersed throughout the suburbs.
  • Jewish Big Brother Association adds Big Sister service.

1979:

  • Jewish Community Campus site is purchased in Newton.
  • Jewish Young Adult Center opens in Brookline.
  • Soviet immigration at record pace.

1980s

1981:

  • First Super Sunday Campaign tops $1 million.

1983:

  • CJP's Gosman Campus and Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center opens in Newton.

1985:

  • Operation Moses saves 10,000 Ethiopian Jews.
  • Greater Boston's Jewish population now at 170,000.
  • Demographic survey shows that Jews are more geographically dispersed and intermarriage is increasing.

1986:

  • CJP completes strategic planning process.
  • Striar JCC breaks ground in Stoughton.

1987:

  • Barry Shrage joins CJP as president.
  • With glasnost and perestroika, immigration from the Soviet Union begins to grow.

1990s

1990:

  • National Jewish Population Study documents a sharp increase in intermarriage and raises concerns about Jewish continuity.

1993:

  • Boston's Commission on Jewish Continuity recommends bold new directions in Jewish education and underlines the new spirit of cooperation between the Federation and synagogues.
  • The Oslo Accords are signed, creating specific steps to reach a permanent solution to the conflict over a five-year period.

1995:

  • CJP celebrates its 100-year anniversary with a concert at Symphony Hall and the publication of "The Jews of Boston." 

1998:

  • Boston celebrates Israel's 50th anniversary of statehood.
  • CJP issues a landmark Strategic Plan redefining its mission of fundraising and community building.

2000s

2001:

  • CJP launches the Community and Capital Campaign to raise $330 million for Boston's Jewish community and Israel.

2003:

  • CJP Annual Campaign raises more than $29 million to support more than 200 agencies, synagogues and schools.

2004:

  • The largest CJP Solidarity Mission travels to Israel with more than 350 people.
  • Boston's Jewish population exceeds 200,000.

2005:

  • In November, CJP celebrates the opening of Bea Winn House, the first Jewish group home created by our Disabilities Housing Initiative (DHI) for people with developmental disabilities. CJP launches SeniorDirect with partner agency JF&CS to provide a referral network of eldercare services in Greater Boston.

2006:

  • With CJP support, the JCRC launches TELEM community service program for Jewish teens.
  • CJP funds Gateways: Access to Jewish Education—Jewish education for children with learning disabilities.

2007:

  • CJP creates IACT (Inspired Active Committed Transformed), a program to engage returning Taglit-Birthright Israel participants in Jewish life on campus at Boston University, Brandeis, Northeastern, Tufts, UMass/Amherst and Harvard.

2008:

  • CJP completes its community-wide strategic plan that focuses on caring and social justice, Israel and overseas and future generations.

2010s

2010:

  • CJP's Day School Affordability Plan invests $2.1 million over three years for tuition vouchers.
  • CJP launches JewishBoston.com—an online destination for all things Jewish in Boston.

2011:

  • CJP’s 2011 Annual Campaign reaches $42.7 million, surpassing the original $41 million Campaign goal.
  • JewishBoston.com helps 800 young adults host Passover Seders through its Seder in a Box program. The site averages 20,000 monthly visits since premiering in March 2009.
  • CJP expands its Families with Young Children Initiative to Metro North.
  • In partnership with Jewish Vocational Service, Hebrew SeniorLife and the Ruderman Family Foundation, CJP launches “Transitions to Work,” a program that provides training and employment support to young adults with disabilities.
  • CJP expands the groundbreaking Israel Campus Initiative (IACT) to five more college campuses.  Birthright alums at Amherst, Wellesley and Williams Colleges, as well as Brown University and MIT are now engaged in Jewish life and advocacy efforts.
  • Together with municipal and social service partners in Haifa, Israel, CJP launches the Parent Partnership Program (P3) to help at-risk families through parenting support and early child intervention.

2013:

  • Jewish Federation of the North Shore (JFNS)’s Board of Directors and membership, and CJP’s Board of Directors, vote to merge the two organizations, to be called Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP). The merger becomes effective July 1, 2013. Extension of CJP signature programs, including Me’ah, Welcome Baby!, Discover Day School, One Happy Camper, and family outreach, begins.