While the roles of women at The Associated have expanded over the past 100 years, their original mission of helping Jews locally and around the world has remained a constant.
With thousands of European Jews left homeless after World War II, women organizers at the Associated Jewish Charities (AJC) launched a Women’s Campaign Committee to raise money and hold various fundraisers throughout Baltimore. At one such event, just 14 women in attendance contributed more than $67,000, the equivalent of $760,000 today.
In 1948, the Women’s Campaign Committee started the “Dime A Day” campaign, which encouraged donors to pledge 10 cents a day, $36.50 annually. The six-week drive raised $16,936 from 464 donors.
On Sunday, May 15, 1949, 1,200 women driven by more than 460 male volunteer chauffeurs — to help raise money for settlers. The goal was for each woman to personally solicit donations from 10 families — or 12,000 homes in total. The effort raised $45,000 in a single day and Giving Day or G-Day became an annual tradition.
In 1967, with the outbreak of the Six-Day War, the newly renamed Women’s Division undertook a two-week emergency campaign, raising more than $300,000. Six years later, with the arrival of more Jews from the Soviet Union and the Yom Kippur War, they raised money for the Israel Emergency Fund.
During the 1960s, the Women’s Division adopted new strategies for engagement and awareness of community needs. Education programs that gave an in-depth behind the scenes look became a yearly tradition. In 1961 Mr. Moses Levitt from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee gave a speech on the world Jewish community. “College for a Day” helped women better understand the vital issues affecting Baltimore Jewry and international Jewish communities.
“Come See” bus tours, held in the 70s, were a precursor to Associated mini-missions, enabling women to see firsthand how their donations made an impact in their community. They soon took on the role of addressing community problems, from participating in service projects to playing a critical role in the creation of CHANA, an Associated-funded program for victims of domestic abuse.
Women’s roles in the workforce were changing, and The Associated became a resource where women connected, networked and acquired professional skills. Programs such as Dor Tikvah and Chapter Two provided a way for women to learn about The Associated while gaining leadership skills. At the same time, women began contributing more of their own money to the campaign. The Jewish Women’s Giving Foundation was formed and women pooled resources to make grants for programs that support women and girls.