Meeting the Challenges of Poverty and Despair


While the needs of the Jewish community have changed over time, The Associated has continued to improve its training, resources and programming to assist individuals and families with the challenges that life presents.

More centennial themes

CARE OF OLDER ADULTS

Caring for our Older Adults
Caring for the older adults in our community began with the Hebrew Friendly Inn and Aged Home in 1889 when rooms were set aside to keep them from homelessness. Overcrowding in the late 1920s resulted in the 1927 move to Levindale, a journey that a newspaper dubbed the “Exodus.”

Staying Connected
In the 1950s, the Golden Age Club provided them with enriching opportunities to create friendships, find new interests and learn new skills. In 1956, the JCC started a day camp program for seniors at Camp Milldale, including swimming and arts and crafts. Even today, that push to ensure older adults remain engaged, is evident at the Myerberg Center, managed by CHAI: Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc.

Women in pool at Camp Milldale, Senior Days
Couple walking in front of the Concord House

A Population in Crisis
In the late 1960s, a demographic study of the Baltimore Jewish community revealed a shocking truth: the community was unprepared to deal with its aging population, specifically affordable housing. In 1970, CHAI opened and managed Concord House specifically for low-income elderly individuals. Today, CHAI operates 16 Weinberg affordable living communities (including assisted living) and provides services for older adults to age in community.

OVERCOMING FINANCIAL CHALLENGES

Supporting Those Who Struggle
Formed in 1844, the Hebrew Benevolent Society provided relief and improved living conditions. It merged numerous times, becoming part of the Associated Jewish Charities (AJC) as the Jewish Social Service Bureau in 1930, the Jewish Family and Children’s Service in 1963 and Jewish Community Services (JCS) in 2008. 

Finding Jobs
The Associated Placement and Guidance Services (APGS) was established in 1939 to provide training, educational opportunities, career counseling and job placement to Jewish applicants. APGS worked with Sabbath observers, those with physical limitations, recent immigrants, elderly persons and discrimination cases. In 1987, the name changed to Jewish Vocational Services, which is now part of JCS.

The Great Recession
When the housing market collapsed in 2008, tens of thousands in the Jewish community found themselves out of work. Layoffs, downsizing and small business closings forced many community members to turn to help. JCS provided millions in financial assistance to help families meet basic needs, prevent foreclosure, helped individuals retrain for new positions and successfully matched employees with potential employers.

Immigrants working at Baltimore Spice Co., 1960’s.

Care of Children

Caring for Orphans
The Jewish community began caring for orphans in 1873 with the founding of the Hebrew Orphan Asylum. In the early 1920s, the orphanage moved to Levindale and was renamed the Jewish Children’s Society. Baltimore became the first community in the United States to move toward eliminating institutional care of children in the foster care system.

Keeping Families Strong
The Jewish Big Brother and Big Sister League, established in 1920, was one of the original agencies of the AJC and later became part of JCS. Matching older volunteers with children and teens, these “Bigs” and “Littles” spent countless hours together. JCS also provided preventative and therapy services that addressed the emotional well-being of the community.

Succeeding in School
In the second half of the 19th century, children with learning differences struggled with Hebrew school. The Board of Jewish Education established a Department of Special Education in 1967 to help them receive a Jewish education. Gesher LaTorah provided a fun and positive learning experience for these youngsters. SHEMESH was established in 2009 to support students with learning differences in Jewish schools.

Young girl reading a book inside a library
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