• The Eureka Benevolent Society, established by August Helbing, is the oldest charitable organization west of the Mississippi River.


  • A group of concerned citizens organizes the Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum and Home Society to house children, the poor, and the elderly.

Turn of the Century: 1896 – 1918

  • Approximately 6,000 Russian Jews settle in the Bay Area with help from the Eureka Benevolent Society. World War I and the Russian Revolution trigger a new wave of Jewish immigration between 1914 and 1918.

The Roaring ’20s

  • The Pacific Hebrew Orphan Asylum moves to a new campus on Ocean Avenue in 1921 and is renamed Homewood Terrace.

Mid-20th Century

  • In 1931, the Eureka Benevolent Society moves to a newly built office complex on Scott Street in San Francisco.
  • In 1939, the Eureka Benevolent Society is renamed Jewish Family Service Agency (JFSA).
  • In 1943, JFSA establishes its first social enterprise, Utility Workshop, a job-creation program for refugees and elderly immigrants.
  • During this period, the agency also offers mental health services and, in the 1950s, helps to provide resettlement services for Hungarian and German émigrés.

The 1960s and 1970s

  • In 1966, JFSA opens its first branch office on the Peninsula.
  • In 1972, it opens another branch office in Marin County.
  • The agency launches a volunteer corps in 1973.
  • In 1974, its Child Guidance Program expands to include child therapy, consultation to teachers, and group counseling for parents.
  • During this time, the mid-’70s, the U.S. Department of State asks JFSA to help resettle Vietnamese and Cambodian refugees from Camp Pendleton and Fort Chaffee.
  • In 1977, Homewood Terrace and JFSA merge to become JFCS.
  • Also in 1977, JFCS opens a branch office in Palo Alto.
  • In 1978, the agency establishes a Southeast Asian Refugee Resettlement program.
  • Also in 1978, current executive director Dr. Anita Friedman is named the new coordinator of émigré services for the San Francisco Jewish community and director of the resettlement program, overseeing all Jewish Welfare Federation agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The 1980s

  • In June 1982, the agency opens one of the first family resource centers in the nation, Parents Place, and purchases its first property, a Victorian building on California Street in San Francisco, to house it.
  • During the mid-1980s, Homewood Terrace is closed.
  • In 1985, JFCS opens Adoption Connection, a fully licensed, nonprofit adoption agency, that handles open, infant adoptions and matches birth mothers with adoptive parents.
  • In 1986, the agency leads the creation of the Jewish Emergency Assistance Network (JEAN) to coordinate activities among Jewish organizations and synagogues during times of crisis, such as natural disasters and economic recessions.
  • In the same year, JFCS establishes the first Jewish AIDS outreach program in the United States and secures funding to initiate the AIDS Family Assistance Project.
  • Also in 1986, the second wave of refugees from the Soviet Union to the United States begins. JFCS opens a temporary émigré annex office to handle the increase.
  • In 1987, JFCS collaborates with Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles to introduce the Personal Affairs Management Bill in the state legislature to provide funding for multi-service centers to offer services to the frail elderly. From this time forward, the agency serves as an advocate for many communities’ needs at the local, state, and national levels.
  • In 1988, the agency implements the fee-for-service program, Help at Home, to provide home care, nursing care, meal delivery, laundry, personal affairs management, and emergency response service to the growing numbers of Bay Area older adults. The program is later renamed Seniors At Home.
  • In 1989, JFCS acts as a first responder to the October 17 Loma Prieta earthquake, providing emergency loans, grant assistance, temporary housing, relocation services, crisis counseling, consultation to schools and daycare centers, on-site mental health services, and community workshops.

The 1990s

  • In 1990, JFCS opens a Sonoma County branch office.
  • In 1994, JFCS establishes Dream House, a domestic violence prevention and transitional housing program for women and their children.
  • In the latter half of the 1990s, JFCS begins offering Holocaust survivor services to the growing number of aging survivors in the Bay Area.
  • In 1998, JFCS’ émigré department expands its youth development program in collaboration with Parents Place.
  • In 1999, JFCS’ L’Chaim Center for frail Russian elderly is licensed as an adult day health care facility.
  • At the end of the decade, JFCS also embarks on a capital campaign to purchase buildings for its programs.

2000 – Present

  • In 2000, the Miriam Schultz Grunfeld Building—JFCS’ central administrative office—and the Rhoda Goldman Plaza, an assisted living center with 157 apartments and a dementia-care floor, both open.
  • The agency also leases a new facility in Palo Alto.
  • In 2001, JFCS purchases a Scott Street building for Parents Place and a building in San Rafael for its Marin County branch office.
  • In 2006, the agency purchases a building in San Mateo for the North Peninsula office (Eleanor Haas Koshland Center).
  • In 2007, the agency launches the Childhood Trauma Training Institute, training mental health professionals in the impact and treatment of trauma in children ages 0 – 5.
  • Also in 2007, JFCS establishes the Center for Special Needs to help children with learning, behavioral, physical,
    developmental, neurological, and emotional disabilities, as well as their families.
  • In 2009 JFCS receives a donation of the Gary Shupin House – Independent Living Community for developmentally disabled adults, in San Francisco.
  • In 2010 the agency celebrates its 160th anniversary and publishes Centuries of Pioneering, the book that tells the story of the Jewish people in the Bay Area and their work to help others since 1850.
  • In 2014 the JFCS Holocaust Center, in partnership with Lehrhaus Judaica, publishes The Diary of Rywka Lipszyc, a newly discovered diary of a Polish teenager. The revised edition Rywka’s Diary: The Writings of a Jewish Girl from the Lodz Ghetto has since been translated and published in 15 countries around the world.
  • In 2017 following the North Bay Wildfires, JFCS provided desperately needed services in Sonoma County, including case management, insurance workshops, assistance with living expenses, help to locate temporary housing, and counseling to 1,200 individuals.
  • In 2019, JFCS launches our largest initiative yet, The Center for Children and Youth, bringing together expert clinical care and support, research-based training, and impactful public policy advocacy to transform the lives of young people and their families.
  • In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic hits the Bay Area and JFCS launches a wide-scale emergency response, providing food, no-interest loans and grants, urgent home health care, critical mental health services, parenting guidance, and more to over 120,000 people.

Source of timeline research: Jewish Family and Children’s Services: An Organizational History of Its First 157 Years, 1850 – 2007, by Sara L. Schwartz, PhD, Research Director, and Michael J. Austin, PhD, Center Director, Mack Center for Nonprofit Management in the Human Services, School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley.



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  • Alissa Steiner
  • Director of Marketing and Communications
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