Finding Aids at Your Fingertips

National Jewish Welfare Board, Records

American Jewish Historical Society

Inclusive Date: undated, 1889-1995 (bulk 1917-1990)

National Jewish Welfare Board

1535.8 linear feet (1527 Hollinger boxes; 4 [16 x 20"] oversized boxes; 1 [20 x 24"] oversized box; 71 MAP folders, 4 film cans)

English

Hebrew

Yiddish

Spanish

French

Italian

Swedish

German

Latin

Hungarian

Afrikaans

The collection documents the National Jewish Welfare Board's (JWB) evolution from an organization founded in 1917 to provide support for soldiers in times of war to an agency involved in all aspects of Jewish life both in the United States and abroad. In 1990 JWB recreated itself as the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America.

Expand All    Collapse All

Collection Details

The Records of the National Jewish Welfare Board were transferred to the American Jewish Historical Society starting in 1968.



Organized in 1917 to meet the needs of Jewish servicemen in the Armed Forces, the National Jewish Welfare Board (JWB) became a national federation of local agencies and social service institutions dedicated to meeting the social, cultural, intellectual, physical and spiritual needs of the American Jewish community.

The roots of JWB can be traced to the founding of the Council of Young Men's Hebrew and Kindred Associations (YMHA-KA) in November 1913. This benevolent organization was established to promote and help coordinate the programs of the various Young Men's Hebrew Associations (YMHAs) and Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) throughout the United States. In 1916 the Council created a special Army and Navy Committee to attend to the religious and welfare needs of Jewish soldiers participating in military activities along the Mexican border. During World War I the Council decided to expand its services and aid rabbis serving near military posts. Unfortunately, the activities of the Council were hampered by its inability to speak for the entire American Jewish community. Furthermore, the absence of a unified coordinating agency led to a duplication of services and a scattering of limited resources.

Hence, in April 1917, representatives of five major Jewish religious bodies (the United Synagogue, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, and the Agudath Ha-Rabbanim) joined with members of the Council to form the Jewish Board for Welfare Work in the United States Army and Navy. This new organization, however, was also deemed unsatisfactory since it relied primarily on the sponsorship of its member organizations. Therefore, in July 1917, the Jewish Board for Welfare Work was reorganized with control centralized in a small committee of three to five members. The close ties of the new Jewish Board to the Council of Young Men's Hebrew and Kindred Associations were severed and field secretaries were chosen to conduct new programs. In September 1917, the Commission on Training Camp Activities recognized the Board as the official agency for Jewish welfare work in military camps. In the summer of 1918, the name of the Board was changed to the Jewish Welfare Board, United States Army and Navy (shortened to Jewish Welfare Board in 1919) and the first by-laws and terms of office and membership were decided at a public meeting. JWB was now prepared to act as the representative agency for American Jewish servicemen in the United States military.

The program activities of JWB during World War I included the enlistment of rabbis to serve as chaplains and the recruitment and training of lay workers. JWB created an abridged prayer book, reconciling the religious views of the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform branches of Judaism, and distributed this to the soldiers. Prayer shawls, mezuzah scrolls, Jewish calendars, and many other items were also distributed. In addition, to meet the dietary needs of Jewish personnel, kosher food was provided in canteens and barracks. Non-religious activities sponsored by JWB included dances, literary clubs, classes in the English language and American history, and musical entertainment. Personal services included home visits to relatives of servicemen and a hospital visiting service to cheer the sick and wounded. In 1918, the programs and services of JWB were extended overseas, as workers were sent to Europe to assist Jewish Servicemen.

By the war's end, JWB had developed a cadre of 638 field representatives, 178 of whom had served overseas. The new agency had an established staff made up of chaplains and lay workers, known as the "Star of David Men," who acted as personal councilors, teachers, spiritual leaders, and directors of religious services. Under the direction of JWB, the American Jewish community had mobilized to support the war effort and during this time, many organizations such as the B'nai B'rith, the National Council of Jewish Women, and the YMHA-KA became JWB affiliates. Thus, the Jewish Welfare Board had firmly established itself as one of the leading Jewish organizations in the United States.



The desire for a common meeting place for American Jews to promote their social, educational, and recreational development was widespread at the end of World War I. Consequently in the spring of 1920, at a special meeting of the JWB Executive Committee, it was determined that besides assisting military personnel, JWB would begin to support, advance, and serve the Jewish Community Center movement. It was further decided that JWB would merge with and assume the functions of the Council of YMHA-KA. By January 1921, a draft constitution was approved by the two organizations and in July 1921, the reorganized JWB was launched.



The mission of the newly reorganized JWB was threefold. First, the Board hoped to promote the social welfare of American Jewish servicemen by providing them with adequate opportunities for worship, education, devotion, solace and improvement. Second, the religious, intellectual, physical, and social well being of young Jewish men and women was to be supported. Finally, JWB dedicated itself to the development of JCCs, YMHAs, Young Women's Hebrew Associations (YWHAs), and other kindred societies.

Membership in the new JWB consisted of local agencies such as JCCs, YM-YWHAs, regional federations of YMHAs and JCCs, and affiliated national organizations such as B'nai B'rith. As a result of this varied membership, JWB gained the authority to represent all American Jewish organizations.

JWB was organized into two sections - Army and Navy services and Jewish Community Center services. Sixteen full time and part time JWB workers, community volunteers, and soldier representatives provided Army and Navy services. As the officially recognized Jewish religious and welfare agency for Jewish military personnel, these staffers covered 250 military establishments, Veterans hospitals, and naval stations.

Services to JCCs were provided by a national office staff of three-a director and two assistants-and eight field secretaries. These field secretaries made hundreds of annual field visits and provided various consultation services to the JCCs in their sections. In addition, they prepared or supervised the development of Center publications and wrote community surveys and studies, which described and analyzed the local Jewish population, examined the condition of existing JCCs and summer camps, assessed the needs of Jewish students, studied general citywide problems and reviewed the needs for recreational and vocational activities. Finally, the authors drew conclusions and made recommendations that they hoped would improve the JCCs.

The JCC's overall goal was to provide an element of unity, purpose and service to the Jewish community. To achieve this goal, JWB provided a multitude of services to the JCCs and supported and developed numerous programs during the 1930s that stressed the development of Jewish culture and the spirit of Judaism within the overall American context. These included youth programs, which were intended to emphasize the building of character. In addition, program activities focusing on Jewish holiday celebrations, Jewish history and problems, Jewish themes, and Jewish survival were developed. In 1922 JWB's Lecture and Concert Bureau assumed the direct management of selecting lecturers to participate in forums at local JCCs. Plays, pageants, bulletins, and brochures were developed and distributed to celebrate Jewish and civic holidays. Camping services were expanded in the 1930s and training for camp counselors was offered by JWB. JWB staff also organized educational conferences and conventions, prepared Jewish bibliographies and other publications, encouraged group insurance plans for Center workers, and devoted considerable resources to assisting JCCs in finding qualified staff. By these and other means, JWB attempted to develop balanced programs that would meet the cultural, social, intellectual, and physical needs of the Jewish community.

Between 1937 and 1940 JWB staff grew, new regional federations were developed, and the field services division was expanded. Annual meetings were attended by hundreds of delegates and lay committees took an active part in promoting JWB programs. The National Health Advisory Board provided consultation and guidance in the improvement of health programs and standards at JCCs while the National Association of Jewish Center Workers provided JWB with an intimate knowledge of the Center worker field, and the National Finance Council provided a permanent base of financial support for JWB by helping it secure much-needed funds. By the end of 1940, JWB had developed close contact with both Jewish and non-Jewish social work agencies and continued to solidify its role as the Jewish body concerned with Jewish social work.



In 1939, as the officially approved agency for Jewish religious and welfare work for Jewish military personnel, JWB began making preparations for a possible American involvement in the war in Europe. At the request of the United States Navy, JWB outlined the service personnel programs that they would be implementing in the event of war. In 1940 a national survey was conducted that reviewed service requirements, personnel needs, and local committee organization. By January 1941, JWB field men were working in the vicinity of training camps while Jewish chaplains were being commissioned into the armed forces in increasing numbers. Lastly, JWB's cooperative relationships with the YMCA, YWCA, National Travelers Aid Association, Salvation Army, and National Catholic Community Service, led to the establishment of the United Service Organization for National Defense, or USO, in 1941.

When America became involved in World War II, JWB was ready to meet the needs of Jewish military personnel. At the beginning of the war fifteen national Jewish organizations were represented by JWB; by war's end that number had increased to thirty-eight.

During the war, many new JWB committees and divisions were created to meet the wartime emergency. The Bureau of War Records was established to gather and preserve the war records of Jewish military personnel. Local war record committees were organized around the country to compile the war records of Jewish soldiers. As a result, a full account describing the activities of the Jewish soldier was published at the end of the war. In 1942, five national women's organizations affiliated with JWB began the Women's Organizations' Division. (The Division later expanded and become known as Women's Organizations' Services.) This division initiated projects to assist military personnel, organized and publicized work related to the war effort, and coordinated the efforts of women in local communities. In addition, the Committee on Personal Service was created to supervise and guide the work of field personnel servicing Jews in the military. By the end of the war, there were 626 Army and Navy Committees organized throughout the United States serving Jewish servicemen.

JWB's war activities also reached around the globe. Chaplains could be found in the West Indies, India, Burma, China, North Africa, the Pacific Islands, Europe and the Middle East. They served on hospital and transport ships, on the ground with the infantry, and were among the first to reach the concentration camps and assist survivors. By the end of the war, a total of 311 JWB chaplains had served in the military.

One of the main activities and tasks of JWB during the war was providing chaplains with the necessary supplies to meet the needs of Jewish soldiers. Enormous amounts of festival accessories, troop comforts, and kosher food were transported around the world and given to chaplains. Similarly, the recreational needs of soldiers were met by JWB at various USO buildings at home and abroad. In 1943, JWB helped organize Jewish Hospitality Committees in Great Britain to aid Jewish servicemen. Religious hospitality centers, containing synagogues, social rooms, snack bars, and kosher kitchens, were set up by field representatives in Europe, Australia, India, and China. JWB also assisted in refugee work by providing religious services, parties, reading materials and textbooks for the displaced of Europe.

The Women's Organizations' Division supplemented the work of the USO and the Jewish Chaplaincy. Through the efforts of Serve-a-Chaplain Committees the ladies helped gather supplies for chaplains. Members of the Serve-a-Hospital and Serve-a-Veterans Hospital Committees visited wounded veterans to help improve their morale. Included among the many items provided to Jewish servicemen by the women's division were games, books, records, toilet articles, holiday equipment, knitted goods, holiday material, and food parcels.

The global war effort demanded a great exertion on the part of JWB to send supplies overseas. By 1946, JWB had distributed 900,000 packages of Matzoth, 30,000 gallons of wine, 50,000 cans of kosher meat, and 50,000 pounds of salami. Tons of fish, macaroons, and other holiday delicacies were provided to servicemen around the world. Moreover, 6 million books and pamphlets were produced and distributed by JWB. Two million holiday leaflets and 8.5 million holiday greeting cards were sent overseas. The circulation of religious accessories such as prayer books reached into the tens of thousands.

With guidance provided by JWB, JCCs and YM-YWHAs also played an important role in the war effort. Many community center buildings became USOs and center workers provided servicemen with recreational programs, dances, parties, and hospitality. Center workers participated in Red Cross blood bank drives and the sale of war bonds. Furthermore, many JCCs began to provide nursery services and expanded educational opportunities for families with men in uniform.



After World War II JWB began to redefine its programs and objectives to meet the needs of the Jewish community in post-World War II America and recast itself into a national social welfare agency helping to expand and develop the JCC movement. In 1947 JWB adopted athat became the credo of Center work and a condition of affiliation with JWB. This new credo made clear that Jewish content was fundamental to the JCC program and that the Centers were to become agencies for Jewish identification and integration. Center programs would encourage the development of Jewish culture, and provide educational and recreational opportunities for members. Furthermore, as a democratic institution, the Centers were to help advance democracy and the integration of the American Jew into American society.

Over the next few years, JWB reorganized itself to meet its new responsibilities and as the Cold War began in 1948, JWB was ready to engage in a worldwide service to build and maintain the spiritual and morale life of Jewish GIs and dependents, and to assist Jewish chaplains and Jewish civilian communities.



JWB developed and provided a multitude of program services for JCCs during the 1950s and 1960s. It offered budgeting and building management advice, training services for center staff and executives, assistance in the purchasing of equipment and supplies, consultation in developing public relations programs, and aid in the establishment of health insurance coverage and retirement plans for center workers.

Young people were an important part of the JCC, and JWB sponsored programs and activities designed to awaken their Jewish heritage. Additionally, JWB sponsored inter-city leadership training conferences, cultural workshops and seminars, study tours of Europe and Israel, exchange visits with families overseas, international Jewish youth assemblies and, in 1965, a national training institute for youth.

During the 1960s both senior citizens and women became increasingly involved with the Center movement. To alleviate the isolation that came with old age, JWB encouraged special cultural, social, and recreational services to seniors. Women also turned to the JCCs for programming aid and leadership, and both regional and national leadership institutes were offered to Jewish women.

JWB continued to provide a great number of services to JCCs. The camping service program was designed to strengthen Jewish identification and community as well as to provide an appreciation for Jewish life. Day and suburban camp participants included children, families, the elderly and the physically handicapped. The evaluation of camping sites, the development of camping programs, and the training and recruitment of staff were tasks that JWB performed for the Centers. The health and physical well being of JCC members also became a concern of JWB. Professional staff assisted center workers in the programming and planning of health activities. Additionally, JWB sponsored basketball, volleyball, golf, handball, and swimming tournaments around the country. It also helped to establish permanent athletic links between American Centers and Jewish youth organizations in Israel and other countries. By the mid-1960s, one million people were participating in the health and physical education programs sponsored by JWB and community centers.

The promotion of Jewish culture also continued to be an integral part of the JWB program. Rich cultural programs were brought to hundreds of JCCs by the Lecture Bureau, exposing Center members to Jewish speakers, artists, thinkers, and exponents of the Jewish way of life. The Jewish Book Council supported and promoted an appreciation for Jewish literature in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish while the Jewish Music Council supported Jewish culture through music. Publications promoting Jewish culture were distributed by JWB to JCCs, synagogues, youth agencies, women's groups, and fraternal organizations.



In conjunction with the development of the JCC movement during the 1950s and 1960s, JWB continued offering services to American Jewish GIs. Chaplains provided religious literature and services, conducted educational programs, gave pastoral counseling to servicemen, and visited soldiers in hospitals around the world. They were assisted in these tasks by the newly created Military Sisterhoods, organized by Jewish servicemen's wives. These groups planned programs and obtained supplies for GI congregations. The USO also continued its leadership role and helped mobilize local Jewish community resources. Finally, the Women's Organizations' Services established a mail order service that sent items to chaplains and other volunteers serving Jewish servicemen abroad. Books, records, magazines, films, children's texts, classroom supplies, holiday decorations, and arts-and-crafts-materials were some of the items sent by the WOS to military posts around the world.



One of the major goals of JWB after World War II was the establishment of the JCC movement abroad. During the 1950s, JWB program materials were translated into French, Spanish, Italian, Hebrew and Yiddish. Foreign youth councils were assisted and the introduction of Jewish Book and Music Councils overseas was begun. JWB also helped sponsor several international conferences hoping to strengthen the ties of Jews around the world. Among these were the Jewish Community Center World Fellowship Project (1955), the Conference of European and American Center Leaders (1964), the Standing Conference on European Jewish Community Services (1965) and the Commission on Centers and Camps (1965). In 1947 the World Federation of YMHAs and JCCs was created to aid in the revival of Jewish life around the world. (The Jerusalem Y became a major responsibility of the World Federation when it opened in 1950.) Finally, a dual exchange program was established with Israeli social workers that gave both Israeli and American Jews the opportunity to experience each other's Jewish cultures.



In the Post-World War II Era, JWB moved away from giving direct program services to the JCCs and instead, became more of a coordinating and consulting agency that provided resources, program materials, and technical guidance to JCCs to make Jewish values and traditions relevant to contemporary life in the United States.

During the 1950s and 1960s JWB was successful in encouraging JCCs to become more family oriented to strengthen Jewish family life in a time of social and economic change. The Centers were recognized as serving important Jewish communal purposes, and became symbols and rallying points for Jewish living. With JWB guidance, JCCs helped to preserve, nourish, and give meaning in America to Jewish heritage and life.



In 1967, JWB marked its 50anniversary by sponsoring new Jewish musical compositions and plays. The Jewish Book Council celebrated its 25anniversary by publishing a 448-page volume dedicated to American Jewish authors. Meanwhile, the Commission on Jewish Chaplaincy (originally founded in 1917 as the Chaplain's Committee) observed its silver jubilee by initiating new programs to provide religious and cultural materials and training to an expanding corps of lay leaders. Finally, the Women's Organizations Services re-dedicated itself on its 25anniversary by developing innovative programs to help assist military families.

The building of new centers continued at a rapid pace. Between 1945 and 1969, 120 new JCCs were built. These new buildings reflected the changing needs and interests of the local Jewish community. Some of the more modern facilities included homes for the aged, day care centers, fixed seat theatres, practice music rooms, creative art rooms, jogging tracks, and therapy pools for the physically handicapped.

To meet the demand for qualified staff to work in the expanding JCCs, JWB created the Bureau of Careers in Jewish Service to recruit Jewish civil servants and social workers. JWB offered national training services to the JCCs and provided open job listings of all professional vacancies, to encourage workers to stay in the social work field. Twenty-five different training projects were carried out by JWB's Training Services Department to orient new Center workers and to up-grade the skills of those already in the field. By 1969, the recruitment of Center workers had become a function of local Jewish communities with guidance provided by JWB's Personnel Services Department.

Qualified rabbis were also in short supply during the 1960s. As opposition to the war in Vietnam increased, the Commission on Jewish Chaplaincy (CJC) intensified its recruitment efforts and continued to recruit lay leaders to carry on religious and educational programs for Jewish servicemen. To help alleviate the shortage of chaplains, in 1966, JWB developed a retention plan that encouraged rabbis to make the military chaplaincy a career. In 1969 the CJC began recruiting chaplains among rabbis holding civilian positions. JWB also helped organize regional conferences of Jewish chaplains, community leaders, JCC staff, and regional consultants to help develop a better understanding of the needs of servicemen.

At the close of the 1960s JWB offered an energetic program that detected new social work needs, charted new directions, and pioneered new advances in social work practice. JWB's Service to Small Communities program began offering services to small and isolated Jewish communities throughout the country. It developed new programs to serve Jewish college youth and learn more about the attitudes, needs, and interests of the college generation. More intensive programming in Jewish music, drama, graphic arts, theatre, and dance were encouraged. And finally, displays of American Jewish history were developed and viewed by thousands in the Centers.

Many of the programs and policies of JWB were shaped to a large degree by the increasing racial confrontation and social and political turmoil of the 1960s. Rising anti-Semitism in the black community led to an examination of how JCCs could contribute to an improvement in black-white relationships. As a result, the Centers began many social, recreational, and cultural programs in urban areas. These programs included tutorial and remedial reading classes, Center day and resident camps for the poor, head start programs, and child-care centers. Although most of these programs were offered to disadvantaged blacks, Puerto Ricans, Mexican-Americans, and impoverished Jews also participated. Center activities on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised reflected the belief of the majority of the Jewish community that Jews had a moral and economic interest in eliminating the causes of racial disorder and poverty.

The development of links overseas continued to grow, particularly after the Six-Day War in 1967. The fate of Israel found a place in the hearts and minds of the Jewish people and the JCCs were infused with a new energy. They helped organize, direct, and motivate Jewish support for the state of Israel. JWB expertise was used to train staff in Israeli centers.

Overseas links to Europe and other areas around the world were nurtured by JWB's international consultation program. JWB and Center professionals contributed to the planning and workshops of the International Conference of Jewish Communal Service in Jerusalem. Finally, JWB helped support outdoor Center demonstrations in support of Soviet Jewry.



Like most of America, the JWB and JCC movement was swept up in the societal changes of the 1970s and 1980s. The Jewish community faced a rise in alternative household arrangements that had little connection to the synagogue or JCC movement. Many Jews were single or divorced with children and a growing number were over the age of fifty. Moreover, the trend of intermarriage, assimilation, and lower births threatened the long-term survival of the Jewish community. As a result of these changes, JWB began to develop new cultural and educational programs to strengthen the Jewish community.

Various counseling, single parent support groups, and recreational activities were started by JWB in response to the changing family environment. Programs were also developed for the homebound elderly, Jewish children unaffiliated with Jewish organizations, and older adults. Children, adults, and families were encouraged to explore their Jewish heritage and culture and to join synagogues and temples.

As the 1980s progressed, fathering programs were designed to assist men as they took on additional parenting responsibilities at home. New day care programs for the elderly and horticultural therapy were offered to senior citizens. A Shalom Newcomers Network was begun to help Jewish families and individuals put down Jewish roots in new communities. By the end of the decade, the JCCs had developed a wide array of programs to deal with such everyday concerns as heart disease prevention, child abuse, and AIDS prevention.

JWB reinforced its long-term commitment to Jewish education during the 1980s. To help the JCCs reach their full educational potential, in 1983 the Commission on Maximizing Jewish Education in Jewish Community Centers was given the task of studying Jewish educational programming. As a result of this study, new programs designed to stimulate Jewish awareness, knowledge, and identification were introduced into the JCCs. A wide range of educational activities for young and old, men and women, were established throughout the JCCs to enrich Jewish life and deepen their sense of Jewish identity and commitment.

Foreign contacts continued and expanded with Jews in Venezuela, Canada, France, Israel, and in the Soviet Union. The JCCs celebrated the 30anniversary of Israeli's founding with special expos, walk-a-thons, music and dance programs, presentations, and athletic events. By 1979, there were ninety-one community centers in the Jewish State. JWB recognized the importance of its Israel connection when, in 1980, it helped sponsor the Israel Desk Program. This program was developed to encourage North American Jews to go to Israel to work, study, perform voluntary services, or perhaps to settle. It was aimed at making Israel more accessible to American Jewry.

The influx of Russian Jews into the United States propelled the development of special JWB programs to ease the pains of readjustment. New programs in housing, healthcare, and legal rights were developed to help assimilate the new immigrants, and special classes in the reading and writing of English were also offered.



In 1990 JWB, in order to more accurately reflect the organization's mission and goals, and its connection with the Jewish Community Center movement, changed its name to the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America (JCC Association). The JCC Association resolved to become more proactive in anticipating the needs of the Jewish community and in providing the mechanisms and resources to meet those needs.

The 1990s witnessed the introduction of new programs and relationships overseas. A summer teen experience in Israel was launched, which emphasized education and leadership skills. In addition, executive training for Israeli staff was expanded and included graduate level courses focusing on Jewish issues within the context of Israel. An Israeli Fellowship Program and leadership training seminars were also offered. In 1999, the JCC Association began the Birthright Israel program, which sponsored first-time visits to Israel for American Jews. In the same year, the JCC Maccabi Xperience was started for high school and college students and for young professionals up to the age of 33. Maccabi programs included visits to cultural, historical, and geographical sites throughout Israel.

The JCC Association also began to help rebuild Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union. Since most Russian Jews had little or no exposure to the Jewish religion, the JCC movement primarily concentrated on building connections to Jewish communities. JCC programs stressed the promotion of Jewish culture, education, and Jewish life. By 1997 thirty-eight JCCs were in operation in Russia.

At home, the JCC Association continued the development of various programs to meet the needs of the Jewish community. Early childhood programs were promoted in the Centers, Young Judaea Clubs were started, and teen leadership summits, exploring such issues as respect, tolerance, and conflict resolution, were begun. The JCCs continued to stress the development of educational opportunities for its members. Programs to better educate and train lay leaders were started; scholarship and fellowship programs for teenagers were introduced; and an endowment was funded to bring world-class Jewish scholars to JCC conferences. Finally, continental standards to help measure JCC performances in meeting the goals of the movement were developed, covering everything from Jewish education programs to the safe storage of supplies.

With the beginning of the new century, the JCC Association had gone high tech. It launched an online resource for Jewish early childhood educators and created an Internet service so that JCC professionals could interact with each other more efficiently. In addition, the JCC Association continued to develop innovative programming for the Jewish community. For instance, programs were established to educate and train JCC staff in integrating disabled youth into center activities. The JCC Association and the National Foundation of Jewish Culture helped create the Jewish Council for the Arts to promote Jewish art and culture. To reflect the growing needs of adults over fifty years old, a JCC task force began the development of new and modern adult programming. Additionally, a JCC North America Kallah program was begun to provide focused, high profile, and exciting adult Jewish programming. In the year 2000, the JCC Association Center for Jewish Education was started with the goal of providing on-going training and development for JCC professionals. This new educational association serves as a resource for Jewish educators and provides them with guidance in the development of Center education initiatives.

The new century finds the JCC Association continuing to adapt, innovate, and refine its vision of the future. Like its predecessors, the goal of the JCC Association is to strengthen the bonds of the Jewish community. Thus, the theme of the 2000 Biennial was "Building Meaningful Jewish Community" and it found over 1000 lay leaders, board members, presidents and executives from JCCs across North America examining their past, debating plans for the future, and demonstrating the commitment of the JCC movement to American Jewry.

Unfortunately, there are no full-length contemporary studies of the Jewish Welfare Board or the Jewish Community Center movement, and the Board does not seem to have published any annual reports from 1970 to the mid-1990s. Therefore, researchers should consult the JCC Association's website () and the serial publicationsandfor more current information about the Jewish Community Center movement.

This collection documents the National Jewish Welfare Board's (JWB) evolution from an organization founded in 1917 to provide support for soldiers in times of war, to an agency involved in all aspects of Jewish life both in the U.S. and abroad. The bulk of the material falls between 1921 and 1988. (In 1990, JWB recreated itself as the Jewish Community Centers Association of North America.)

The collection consists of four main groups, each of which reflects a different function of JWB. Subgroup I, Governance, details the inner workings and operations of JWB, while Subgroup II, Jewish Community Centers, offers information on the various activities JCCs provided for their members, as well as a look at the services and assistance which JWB supplied to the centers itself. Subgroup III, Veterans' Affairs, describes JWB's efforts in support of soldiers, veterans, and their families, and Subgroup IV, Affiliated Organizations documents JWB's sponsorship of and partnership with other national Jewish organizations. (It should be noted that considerable overlap does exist between the subgroups.) Subgroups V and VI consist of audio-visual and oversized materials which were removed from the first four subgroups.

Additional detailed description for each subgroup, series, and subseries is found below.

The collection has been arranged into the six subgroups listed below. The links lead to detailed description of each subgroup, series, and subseries.
The complete folder list for the entire collection is found in this, which include instructions for how to search and navigate the container list.

Boxes are numbered and stickered by subgroup as follows:
Subgroup I: Governance, Boxes 1-295 (red sticker)
Subgroup II: Jewish Community Centers, Boxes 1-941 (small orange sticker)
Subgroup III: Veterans' Affairs, Boxes 1-180 (orange sticker)
Subgroup IV: Affiliated Organizations, Boxes 1-70 (green sticker)
Subgroup V: Audio and Visual Material, Boxes 1-26 (square orange sticker)
Subgroup I: Governance, Boxes 1-295 (red sticker)
Subgroup II: Jewish Community Centers, Boxes 1-941 (small orange sticker)
Subgroup III: Veterans' Affairs, Boxes 1-180 (orange sticker)
Subgroup IV: Affiliated Organizations, Boxes 1-70 (green sticker)
Subgroup V: Audio and Visual Material, Boxes 1-26 (square orange sticker)
Subgroup I: Governance, Boxes 1-295 (red sticker)
Subgroup II: Jewish Community Centers, Boxes 1-941 (small orange sticker)
Subgroup III: Veterans' Affairs, Boxes 1-180 (orange sticker)
Subgroup IV: Affiliated Organizations, Boxes 1-70 (green sticker)
Subgroup V: Audio and Visual Material, Boxes 1-26 (square orange sticker)
Subgroup I: Governance, Boxes 1-295 (red sticker)
Subgroup II: Jewish Community Centers, Boxes 1-941 (small orange sticker)
Subgroup III: Veterans' Affairs, Boxes 1-180 (orange sticker)
Subgroup IV: Affiliated Organizations, Boxes 1-70 (green sticker)
Subgroup V: Audio and Visual Material, Boxes 1-26 (square orange sticker)
Subgroup I: Governance, Boxes 1-295 (red sticker)
Subgroup II: Jewish Community Centers, Boxes 1-941 (small orange sticker)
Subgroup III: Veterans' Affairs, Boxes 1-180 (orange sticker)
Subgroup IV: Affiliated Organizations, Boxes 1-70 (green sticker)
Subgroup V: Audio and Visual Material, Boxes 1-26 (square orange sticker)
Subgroup I: Governance, Boxes 1-295 (red sticker)
Subgroup II: Jewish Community Centers, Boxes 1-941 (small orange sticker)
Subgroup III: Veterans' Affairs, Boxes 1-180 (orange sticker)
Subgroup IV: Affiliated Organizations, Boxes 1-70 (green sticker)
Subgroup V: Audio and Visual Material, Boxes 1-26 (square orange sticker)
Subgroup I: Governance, Boxes 1-295 (red sticker)
Subgroup II: Jewish Community Centers, Boxes 1-941 (small orange sticker)
Subgroup III: Veterans' Affairs, Boxes 1-180 (orange sticker)
Subgroup IV: Affiliated Organizations, Boxes 1-70 (green sticker)
Subgroup V: Audio and Visual Material, Boxes 1-26 (square orange sticker)

Collection Access & Use

The collection is open to all researchers by permission of the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society, except items that are restricted due to their fragility.

Information concerning the literary rights may be obtained from the Director of Library and Archives of the American Jewish Historical Society. Users must apply in writing for permission to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection. For more information contact:American Jewish Historical Society, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York, NY, 10011email:

Published citations should take the following form: Identification of item, date (if known); National Jewish Welfare Board; I-337; box number; folder number; American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY.

Collection Subjects & Formats

Place:
Subject:
Person:
Genre/Format:
Corporation:

Chronology

Series : Subgroup I: Governance

Inclusive Date: 1905-1990 (bulk 1917-1990)

This subgroup documents the internal operations of JWB, including review of JWB's financial situation. Material on JWB's efforts to provide guidance to JCC's is also included. JWB was concerned with maintaining an accurate record of its history and operations and so created its Central Records Center, the contents of which are also included here.

Series : Series A: Governing Body

Inclusive Date: 1918-1990 (bulk 1922-1977)

This series documents the inner workings of JWB and also reflects its interactions with other Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, including government agencies.

Subseries : Subseries 1: Annual Meetings

Inclusive Date: 1919-1926, 1928-1932, 1934-1971 (bulk 1941-1969)

Subseries : Subseries 2: Associate Executive Director/Vice President

Inclusive Date: 1944-1978

Subseries : Subseries 3: Executive Director/Vice President

Inclusive Date: 1967-1968, 1970-1990

Subseries : Subseries 4: Office of the President

Inclusive Date: 1918-1964

Series : Series B: Fund Raising Services

Inclusive Date: 1948-1986 (bulk 1950-1983)

The Fund Raising Services Department reviewed the financial condition of JWB and expedited communication between the various members of JWB, the Centers, and the National Finance Council.

Subseries : Subseries 1: Fund Raising Division

Inclusive Date: 1948-1966

Subseries : Subseries 2: JWB Associates

Inclusive Date: 1967-1984 (bulk 1980-1984)

Subseries : Subseries 3: Large City Budgeting Conference

Inclusive Date: 1982-1983

Subseries : Subseries 4: Support and Development Services

Inclusive Date: 1950-1986 (bulk 1953-1975)

Series : Series C: Central Records Center

Inclusive Date: undated, 1905-1986 (bulk 1917-1970)

The Central Records Center was considered the "memory" of JWB because of the historic material filed within. By the mid-1960's JWB realized that their filing system was in chaos and requested the services of Colonel Seymour Pomrenze. The Colonel had previously been Archivist for the National Archives and an archivist for the US Military. Colonel Pomrenze helped the JWB develop a more efficient records management program in order to control the large amount of paperwork produced every year.

Subseries : Subseries 1: Archives and Records

Inclusive Date: 1963-1986

Subseries : Subseries 2: General Files

Inclusive Date: undated, 1918-1981 (bulk 1938-1975)

Subseries : Subseries 3: History Files

Inclusive Date: 1915-1980 (bulk 1917-1970)

Subseries : Subseries 4: Holiday Files

Inclusive Date: 1905-1972 (bulk 1935-1960)

Subseries : Subseries 5: JWB Administrative Files

Inclusive Date: 1919-1986 (bulk 1940-1969)

Subseries : Subseries 6: National Services

Inclusive Date: undated, 1934-1969 (bulk 1944-1968)

Series : Series D: Conventions and Committees

Inclusive Date: 1926-1986 (bulk 1946-1986)

Series : Series E: JWB Survey

Inclusive Date: 1947-1953

The JWB survey dealt with three main concerns: 1) the purpose and programs of centers; 2) the nature of the center movement and of JWB as its national body; 3) the relationship of centers and JWB to Jewish and general communities.

Subseries : Subseries 1: Oscar Janowsky Working Papers

Inclusive Date: 1947-1953

Series : Subgroup II: Jewish Community Centers

Inclusive Date: undated, 1904-1995 (bulk 1920-1980)

This subgroup documents how the Jewish Community Centers functioned as part of JWB and as individual facilities. JWB offered many services to the Centers, and in return the Centers helped support JWB's mission to enrich the Jewish Community throughout the United States and the World.

Series : Series A: Program Services

Inclusive Date: 1904-1989 (bulk 1930-1980)

This series provides a look at the various programs that JWB helped coordinate for itself, the centers, and the affiliated organizations around the world. A successful social organization is only as strong as its curriculum. JWB understood this, and worked towards the goal of providing the most up-to-date and informative programming it could.

Subseries : Subseries 1: Camping Services

Inclusive Date: 1941-1988

Subseries : Subseries 2: Florence G. Heller Research Center

Inclusive Date: 1959-1989

Subseries : Subseries 3: Health and Physical Education

Inclusive Date: 1948-1981

Subseries : Subseries 4: Jewish Book Council

Inclusive Date: 1922-1985 (bulk 1940-1980)

Subseries : Subseries 5: Jewish Media Service

Inclusive Date: 1973-1984

Subseries : Subseries 6: Jewish Music Council

Inclusive Date: 1923-1979

Subseries : Subseries 7: Lecture Bureau

Inclusive Date: 1904-1986 (bulk 1950-1980)

Subseries : Subseries 8: Nursery School

Inclusive Date: 1945-1956

Subseries : Subseries 9: Older Adults

Inclusive Date: 1943-1956

Subseries : Subseries 10: Program Development and Research Services

Inclusive Date: 1921-1988 (bulk 1935-1980)

Subseries : Subseries 11: Publications

Inclusive Date: 1919-1976 (bulk 1945-1960)

Subseries : Subseries 12: Statistics and Research Department

Inclusive Date: 1930-1987

Subseries : Subseries 13: Vocational Guidance

Inclusive Date: 1926-1942 (bulk 1939-1942)

Subseries : Subseries 14: Youth Programming

Inclusive Date: 1923-1969 (bulk 1940-1968)

Series : Series B: Field Services

Inclusive Date: undated, 1911-1995 (bulk 1921-1980)

This series documents JWB's relationship with the various affiliated Centers throughout the United States and the World. The support services that were available to the Centers are clearly defined and highlighted throughout the records.

Subseries : Subseries 1: Community Services

Inclusive Date: 1945-1984 (bulk 1960-1978)

Subseries : Subseries 2: Community Studies

Inclusive Date: undated, 1921-1964 (bulk 1940-1955)

Subseries : Subseries 3: Field Reports

Inclusive Date: 1919-1980 (bulk 1921-1965)

Subseries : Subseries 4: Geographic Files

Inclusive Date: undated, 1938-1968 (bulk 1946-1966)

Subseries : Subseries 5: Regional Area Files

Inclusive Date: 1931-1966, 1968-1970 (bulk 1948-1962)

Subseries : Subseries 6: Regional Area Offices

Inclusive Date: undated, 1911-1995 (bulk 1945-1975)

Series : Series C: Public Relations

Inclusive Date: undated, 1917-1988 (bulk 1925-1969, 1981-1987)

The Public Relations Department assisted JWB in maintaining its position as the leadership and central service agency of North American JCCs and YM-YWHAs. The Department helped to create and transmit JWB's messages to its constituents, thus fulfilling JWB's role as advocate for a united JCC movement. The Department served as JWB's liaison with the American Jewish and general press and also published the, which showcased the work of JWB, the Center movement, and individual JCCs. In addition, the Department provided JCCs, Centers, and Federations with a variety of publications, and evaluated the JCCs' own public relations material. The Department also consulted with local agencies, to assist them with their public relations efforts and promoted Jewish educational and cultural programming in JCCs.

Subseries : Subseries 1: Department of Communications

Inclusive Date: undated, 1967-1988 (bulk 1981-1987)

Subseries : Subseries 2: Public Information Services

Inclusive Date: undated, 1916-1986 (bulk 1925-1969)

Series : Series D: Personnel Recruitment and Training

Inclusive Date: undated, 1917-1987 (bulk 1945-1975)

This series documents the recruitment and training efforts of JWB's personnel department, which served as the main source of professional staff for JCCs and camps. The department interviewed applicants, evaluated workers and served as a resource to JCC leaders on personnel problems, in addition to organizing training institutes to enrich the professional skills of center workers.

Subseries : Subseries 1: Personnel Services

Inclusive Date: undated, 1917-1987 (bulk 1945-1975)

Series : Series E: Jewish Education Programs

Inclusive Date: undated, 1924-1988 (bulk 1951-1988)

This sub-series documents JWB's educational programs, which were geared towards all users of the JCCs: children, teenagers and adults.

Subseries : Subseries 1: Adult Education

Inclusive Date: 1951-1963

Subseries : Subseries 2: Commission on Maximizing Jewish Educational Effectiveness

Inclusive Date: undated, 1978-1988 (bulk 1983-1988)

Subseries : Subseries 3: Jewish Education

Inclusive Date: undated, 1928-1959 (bulk 1950-1957)

Subseries : Subseries 4: Jewish Educational and Cultural Programming

Inclusive Date: undated, 1924-1981 (bulk 1967-1981)

Subseries : Subseries 5: Jewish Educational and World Services Programming

Inclusive Date: 1968-1973 (bulk 1971-1973)

Subseries : Subseries 6: Jewish Educational Programming

Inclusive Date: undated, 1981-1988 (bulk 1984-1986)

Subseries : Series F: Administrative and Management Services

Inclusive Date: 1917-1977 (bulk 1940-1970)

This series documents the administrative inner workings of the JWB including the building practices and standards of the Centers and the purchasing of supplies for Passover by the Chaplains on US Military Bases.

Subseries : Subseries 1: Accounting and Controller

Inclusive Date: 1938, 1940-1978 (bulk 1945-1960)

Subseries : Subseries 2: Administrative Services

Inclusive Date: undated, 1917-1977 (1950-1975)

Subseries : Subseries 3: Building Bureau

Inclusive Date: 1927, 1940-1962 (bulk 1945-1960)

Subseries : Subseries 4: Central Purchasing Services

Inclusive Date: 1964-1969, 1973-1977

Subseries : Series G: Files and Reports

Inclusive Date: 1909-1970 (bulk 1935-1959)

Although this series contains many reports from the Jewish Center Division, other reports generated by the JWB and Jewish Community Centers can be found throughout the Jewish Community Center Subgroup.

Subseries : Subseries 1: Jewish Center Division

Inclusive Date: 1909-1970 (bulk 1935-1959)

Series : Subgroup III: Veterans' Affairs

Inclusive Date: undated, 1917-1985 (bulk 1940-1978)

This subgroup documents JWB's efforts on behalf of servicemen and veterans. Approximately a third of the subgroup consists of files on individual rabbis who served as chaplains in times of both war and peace. Material on JWB's involvement with the USO is also included, as are files documenting women's organizations' activities on behalf of chaplains, soldiers, and veterans.

Series : Series A: Armed Forces and Veterans' Services

Inclusive Date: undated, 1937-1978 (bulk 1945-1970)

Series : Series B: Commission on Jewish Chaplaincy

Inclusive Date: undated, 1917-1985 (bulk 1940-1965)

Subseries : Series C: Women's Organizations' Services

Inclusive Date: 1930-1982; (bulk 1945-1982)

Series : Subgroup IV: Affiliated Organizations

Inclusive Date: undated, 1889-1979 (bulk 1930-1975)

The Affiliated Organizations subgroup documents JWB's sponsorship and partnership of other national Jewish organizations, most notably are the YMHA, B'nai B'rith, American Jewish Historical Society, and World Federation of YM & YWHAs and JCCs. This subgroup reflects the difficulties faced by these organizations both during and after both World Wars. Also partly documented is the growth of the Jewish Center movement within the country and Canada. Material related to the affiliated organizations can also be found in the Jewish Community Center subgroup.

Series : Series A: National Affiliated Organizations

Inclusive Date: 1915-1978 (bulk 1938-1950)

Series : Series B: World Confederation of Jewish Community Centers (WCJCC)

Inclusive Date: 1974-1979

Series : Series C: World Federation of YM & YWHAs and JCCs

Inclusive Date: 1927-1975 (bulk 1940-1970)

Subseries : Series D: YMHA

Inclusive Date: 1889-1968 (bulk 1930-1965)

Series : Subgroup V: Audio-Visual Materials

Inclusive Date: undated, 1913-1986 (bulk 1918-1982)

Series : Subgroup VI: Oversized Materials

Inclusive Date: undated, 1922-1985