Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds

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COUNCIL OF JEWISH FEDERATIONS AND WELFARE FUNDS , association of U.S. Jewish community organizations. The Council was first organized in 1932 by Jewish Federations in 15 cities, absorbing the work of two predecessor organizations: the Bureau of Jewish Social Research and the National Appeals Information Service. The Bureau of Jewish Social Research was founded in 1919 as a merger of the Bureau of Jewish Philanthropic Research, the Field Bureau of the National Conference of Jewish Social Service, and the Bureau of Information and Statistics of the American Jewish Committee. It conducted local studies of Jewish communities and special studies affecting Jewish Federations and the service areas of their affiliates. It also compiled statistics for various fields of local Jewish service. The National Appeals Information Service was organized in 1927 by 41 Jewish Federations.

The Bureau of Jewish Social Research acted as its agent in the preparation of reports on the programs and finances of national and overseas agencies. With the organization of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, the functions previously performed were extended to include community planning for local Jewish services and mutual aid to Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds in conducting local fund-raising campaigns.

The Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds published annual reports on developments in specific fields (Yearbook of Jewish Social Services, 1930–67; and Jewish Communal Services – Programs and Finances, 1955–68), budget digests dealing with individual national and overseas agencies, and reports dealing with budgeting, campaigning, public welfare, public relations, and business management services. When the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds was organized in 1932, there were less than 70 Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds which were raising under $10 million a year. By 1995 Jewish Federations affiliated with the Council operated in 190 headquarter-cities, serving thousands of communities, and raised about $800 million in annual campaigns. About 95% of the Jewish population of the U.S. resided in federated communities. In addition, a special effort from 1967 for the Israel Emergency Fund, which was organized in the week preceding the Six-Day War, raised hundreds of millions of dollars through associated Jewish Federations. The idea of a second line to the annual campaign was used again in the Yom Kippur War and with the resettlement of Soviet Jews and Ethiopians and Argentinian Jews. Federations are the principal sources of financial support for the *United Jewish Appeal, *United Hias Service, *National Jewish Welfare Board, and community relations agencies (outside New York City). They also provide substantial financial support to about 50 other national and overseas agencies. In addition, each local Federation supports local welfare services (family, child care, aged care, refugee care), Jewish hospitals, centers, camps, youth services, Jewish education, and local community relations. Federations were allocating less than 30% of their funds for national and overseas agencies in 1932. By 1995 overseas agencies (mainly the uja) were receiving 38.7%; national agencies were receiving 1%; and local agencies and Federation administration were receiving 55%. The remaining 5% is due to shrinkage. This was exclusive of about $20 million provided by nonsectarian United Funds and Community Chests for the support of local Jewish services. In response to pressures from local Federations that felt that there was not enough accountability to them regarding how funds were spent overseas, complaints of a redundancy of services and bureaucracies, and with the expectation of increased efficiency and actual dollar savings as well as increased fundraising capacity, the Council was merged with the United Jewish Appeal and United Israel Appeal in 1999 to form the United Jewish Communities. One proviso stemmed the tide of decreasing contribution to Israel and overseas needs by creating a floor beneath which the overseas contributions of the Federated Communities would not fall for a specific period of time.


S.P. Goldberg, in: ajyb, 57–70 (1956–69); H.L. Lurie, A Heritage Affirmed: The Jewish Federation Movement in America (1961). add. bibliography: D. Elazar, Community and Polity: The Organizational Dynamics of American Jewry (1976, 19952); G.B. Bubis and S.F. Windmueller, From Predictability to Chaos?: How American Jewish Leaders Reinvented Their National Communal System (2005).

[Samuel P. Goldberg /

Michael Berenbaum (2nd ed.)]

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Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds

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