How Baltimore Forged a Federation


Even before The Associated was formally established in 1920, its seeds were planted by devoted community leaders who abided by the obligations of tzedakah and tikkun olam. They recognized that by helping the less fortunate, their community would be stronger because of it.

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Passing Years, a play about the development of Jewish charities in Baltimore
In 1922, the AJC presented Passing Years, a play about the development of Jewish charities in Baltimore. More than 2,000 people crammed Ford’s Opera House downtown for two performances.

THE EARLY YEARS

In 1906, Baltimore’s German Jewish immigrants created the Federated Jewish Charities in order to raise funds for charitable agencies that served their population. A year later, the city’s Eastern European Jews established the United Hebrew Charities. As the services of the two organizations overlapped, the need to create one fundraising organization became obvious. In 1920, both groups formally merged into the Associated Jewish Charities (AJC).

THE AGENCIES

Over the years, many beneficiary organizations merged, and new ones were created to meet the problems as they arose. By understanding that the Jewish community of Baltimore was ever-changing and that as the world changed, so did the needs of Jewish Baltimore, The Associated was able to create agencies that met the current needs.

Big brothers of America booth
Jewish Educational Alliance (JEA), Home Camp

One of the main goals in creating the AJC was to streamline services by reducing duplication. By 1921, the AJC served as the umbrella for 16 different organizations — Baltimore Talmud Torah Society, Council Milk and Ice Fund, Daughters in Israel, Hebrew Benevolent Society of Baltimore, Hebrew Free Burial Society, Hebrew Free Loan Association, Hebrew Friendly Inn and Aged Home, Hebrew Hospital and Asylum Association, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, Jewish Big Brother League, Jewish Children’s Bureau, Jewish Children’s Society, Jewish Educational Alliance, Jewish Home for Consumptives, The Hebrew Home for Incurables, Young Ladies Benevolent Society.

The first Annual Meeting of the newly unified The Associated
The first Annual Meeting of the newly unified The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

ASSOCIATED JEWISH CHARITIES AND JEWISH WELFARE FUND BECOME ONE

At the outset of World War II, leaders of the Baltimore Jewish community created the Jewish Welfare Fund (JWF) to raise money for national and overseas agencies involved with saving and assisting the victims of the Nazi regime.

The JWF went on to raise funds for charities ranging from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, the largest Jewish agency in the world for the relief of suffering Jews, to local agencies, like the Baltimore Jewish Council, created in 1939, to combat the rising tide of antisemitism. 

By the late 1960s, leaders of the JWF and the AJC realized it makes sense to unite. The combined organization became known as The Associated Jewish Charities of Baltimore — a name that would hold until 1990 when it would finally change to The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore.

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