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JFS: Proud history for more than 170 years

JFS professional staff and community leaders welcome Russian Jewish immigrants to Richmond in the 1980s.

When Fanny Heller Straus took office in 1849 as the first president of the Ladies’ Chebrah, there were no telephones, no cars, no televisions or radios.

Richmond was a city of 30,000 in the largely agricultural Commonwealth of Virginia and its capital for less than a century. Congregation Beth Ahabah’s first Rabbi, Maximilian Michelbacher, arrived from Philadelphia only four years prior.

The city, people and problems of Richmond have changed again and again between Jewish Family Services’ first year and its 170th.

From the Civil War to the tuberculosis epidemic, the Great Depression to WWII, the tumultuous 1960s to Perestroika to today’s crisis of a rapidly aging population, JFS responded to meet the needs of the moment.

JFS changed from a small membership organization, to an all-volunteer charity, to the modern social services agency we are today, but one thing remained the same: our commitment to practicing Tikkun Olam.

JFS has a long history of assisting seniors.

After more than 170 years, JFS continues to strive to create a better world through dedicated service to more than 1,300 people regardless of race, religion, age or income. What began as small group of Jewish women is now a $4 million agency providing the best options in homecare, customized care for seniors and adults with disabilities, guardianship, counseling across the lifespan and adoption services.

And, we’ve never stopped evolving. JFS added three new programs and nurtured many new partnerships in just the past two years.

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