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JFCS History

Serving the Community for 157 Years!

Today's JFCS is the result of the historic merger in 1983 of the Association for Jewish Children and Jewish Family Service.

AJC dates back to 1855, when Rebecca Gratz founded its predecessor, the Jewish Foster Home - the first institution in the country to care for indigent and destitute Jewish children. The Home merged with several Jewish children's service organizations to form the Association for Jewish Children in 1941.

JFS began in 1869 as United Hebrew Charities, established to provide food, clothing, fuel, medical attendance and other aid to those in need. By 1920, the agency had evolved from one run mainly by volunteers to a professional organization with trained social workers. By 1948, when the agency became Jewish Family Service of Philadelphia, its services included counseling, homemaker services, services for older persons, a volunteer program, and Jewish family life education.

Since both AJC and JFS were serving children and parents, they eventually merged to become JFCS, one comprehensive agency serving individuals, children and seniors through all phases of the life cycle.

"The agency (AJC) saved my life...They helped to make me what I am today...Helped me mature from a troubled adolescent into what I feel is a productive, successful and happy member of society." 
- A former resident of an AJC girls' home.

Photo Captions: Children from the Foster Home for Hebrew Orphans (top left), Opening ceremonies for a new office for the former Jewish Family Service (bottom right).