“May you live until 120″ is a traditional Jewish blessing in remembrance of Moses’ long life. Jewish Family Services is proud to celebrate the achievement of serving the community for 120 years.
It seems surreal, but JFS has served the greater Kansas City community for longer than cars have been on roads or before airplanes first flew in the sky.
Thanks to the dedication of our supporters, and our devoted staff JFS has provided critical human services to the community for six generations! For the next 18 months, we will be celebrating this incredible milestone.
We will host special events to honor what we’ve achieved together as a community during these past 120 years, including a special birthday party at the Jewish Community Campus in Spring 2023. This is just one way we will celebrate all the wonderful JFS programs and services that continue to expand and grow, serving everyone in our community regardless of their faith, age, culture or lifestyle.
“I am so proud of way that JFS has cared for our community for 120 years,” said Don Goldman, JFS Executive Director and CEO for the past 15 years. “JFS has constantly reinvented itself so that it is as relevant today as it was 120 years ago. I am excited to celebrate this remarkable achievement with the whole community including our generous donors, dedicated volunteers, and talented staff.”
Throughout our history, all JFS programs have been anchored in core Jewish values that honor community and caring for one another: in the spirit of Tikkun Olam, JFS is repairing the world, one person, one family at a time.
JFS began in 1901 as United Jewish Charities (UJC) when five volunteer relief agencies came together to legally incorporate. During its first 20 years, UJC established its responsibility to the Jewish Community.
With no other Jewish communal organization in town, UJC began a bathhouse, a Jewish education program, a summer camp called “Bittersweet Camp,” basketball leagues, and resettlement services for Jews coming to America to build better lives.
In 1919, we opened the Alfred Benjamin Dispensary with two purposes: to take care of the indigent, who could not afford medical care and to provide a medical setting for Jewish physicians unable to secure residency in any other Kansas City hospital. The Dispensary eventually grew into the Menorah Medical Center, which precipitated the creation of the Jewish Heritage Foundation.
JFS was also the predecessor agency of the Jewish Federation and one of the founding eight agencies of the Heart of America United Way. In 1942, United Jewish Charities became United Jewish Social Services, Jewish Family Service in 1958, and Jewish Family & Children Services in 1964 as adoption services became a focus.
In 2006, our current name, Jewish Family Services, was adopted. Regardless of our name, our mission of helping people in need, regardless of race or religion, has remained unchanged throughout our history.
In recent years, JFS expanded to meet the needs in the community with programs like Chaplaincy in 2006, Jet Express and Help@Home in 2008, the opening of our first food pantry in 2012, the opening of our Brookside location in 2017, and the launch of KesherKC in 2019.
Rather than merely survive, JFS continues to thrive, finding creative ways to serve growing numbers of people in need in our community.
For more details and highlights from our amazing 120-year-history, please visit www.jfskc.org.