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History of JCFS

In the early years of the Winnipeg Jewish community, Jewish social services were delivered through an informal network of soup kitchens, free dispensaries, and landmanshaften.  That network was eventually replaced by more formal institutions, including the Esther Robinson Jewish Orphanage and Children’s Aid Society; the United Hebrew Relief of Winnipeg; the Kneseth Israel Sisterhood; and the National Council of Jewish Women Social Service Department.  In 1942, these separate initiatives amalgamated into the United Hebrew Social Service Bureau, later renamed the Jewish Family Service Bureau of Winnipeg.  In 1952, the Bureau merged with the Jewish Children’s Home and Aid Society to create Jewish Child and Family Service (JCFS).

Since then, JCFS has been the primary provider of social services to the Winnipeg Jewish community, offering an array of counselling, education and support programs to help clients cope with a diverse range of challenges and situations.  JCFS currently offers family and individual counselling, older adult supports, child welfare services, foster care and adoption services, immigration and resettlement services, and mental health and addictions support.  As a centralized multi-service agency, JCFS is constantly responding to community needs and expanding its services and programs whenever necessary.

Historical Chronology

1903 - Following the Kishinev Pogrom Massacre, thousands of Jews flee the Russian Pale of Settlement for the Golden Land of North America. Many of these emigrants settle in Winnipeg, where they are welcomed by fledgling Jewish community relief organizations and fed, clothed and sheltered.
1914 - The Ester Robinson Jewish Orphanage incorporated.
1916 - The United Hebrew Charities and the North End Relief merge into the United Hebrew Relief in order to support the influx of impoverished Jewish immigrants arriving from Eastern Europe.

1917 - The Ester Robinson Jewish Orphanage and the Canadian Jewish Orphanage merge into the Jewish Children’s Home and Aid Society of Western Canada.
1927 - A small Jewish social service agency was opened with one social worker.
1937 - The Jewish Welfare Fund is established and the United Hebrew Relief becomes one of its beneficiaries.  

1947 - Hundreds of Holocaust survivors, war orphans and other Jewish refugees arrive in Winnipeg and receive assistance from United Hebrew Social Service Bureau.

1951 – The United Hebrew Social Service Bureau is renamed the Jewish Family Service Bureau of Winnipeg.  It then merges with the Jewish Children’s Home and becomes JEWISH CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICE.

1952 - JEWISH CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICE is incorporated as a Children’s Aid Society for the care of Jewish children in the Province of Manitoba.

1956 - Edward Moscovitch is appointed as JCFS’s first Executive Director. The agency offers support to 200 Hungarian Jewish refugees who fled revolution and resettled in Winnipeg.

1963 – JCFS establishes Chevrah, its first residential group home for boys.

1966-1968 - JCFS offers support to a new wave of Jewish immigrants to Winnipeg, among them Moroccans, Israelis, and Czechoslovakians fleeing their country’s uprising.  

1970’s - JCFS expands its counselling, financial assistance and homemaker services, which evolve into  specialized services for the elderly and the establishment of the Older Adult Services department.

1975-1981 – JCFS helps 1,200 Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union resettle in Winnipeg.

1981 - The agency office is destroyed by fire, but records are salvaged with the assistance of the provincial archivist and the Air Force. 

1981 - Barney Yellen is appointed JCFS Executive Director.

1981 - JCFS opens new offices in the Lindsay Building on Notre Dame Avenue.

1982 – JCFS establishes a volunteer program, for the first time in its history permitting non-professionals to become involved with clients.

1982-1987 - JCFS plays an interim role providing administrative support services to Shalom Residences as it begins to provide residential support to adults with intellectual disabilities. 

1983 - The Jewish Child and Family Capital Fund Inc. is established as a separate incorporated organization to maintain the agency’s trust funds and assets.

1985 - The Chevrah group home is renovated, renamed and expanded as a co-ed residential treatment home for youngsters. 

1987 - JCFS is decentralized to two locations to better serve the community. The main office remains in the North end, on the corner of Jefferson and McPhillips, and a satellite office opens in River Heights in the Temple Shalom building.

1990 - JCFS creates a Homemaker Registry for clients in need of caregiving and domestic services. JCFS assumes responsibility for the Jewish community chaplain, a position jointly funded by the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg and the WRHA.

1992 – The Temple Shalom location is closed and a satellite counselling centre is opened.

1994 - The Agency board approves a proposal to centralize its facilities and move to the Asper Jewish Community Campus on Doncaster Street.

1994-1995 – The Chevrah group home is downsized to a boys' only residential home.

1996 - Barney Yellen resigns as Executive Director. JCFS launches a Communal Mental Health pilot program, and makes it a permanent agency service two years later

1997 - Emily Shane is appointed Executive Director. JCFS moves to the Asper Jewish Community Campus.

2000 – The agency closes the Chevrah group home and expands its Foster Care program to better meet the needs of its young clientele. JCFS launches the Jewish Community Volunteer Bureau’s HOURS TO SHARE initiative, funded by the Jewish Foundation of Manitoba.

2001 – JCFS creates a Domestic Violence Task Force after identifying a need for support services for survivors of domestic violence

2002 - JCFS celebrates 50 years of caring at its Golden Gala Anniversary and honours long- time volunteer Ida Margolis, as well as past presidents, executive directors and staff. JCFS launches MAKING A DIFFERENCE, a chronicle of the agency’s history, co-written by Sybil Shack and Sharon Chisvin.

2003 - JCFS introduces COVER OUR KIDS WITH CARE in support of Jewish children in foster care, and creates special tribute cards to support the initiative. JCFS establishes the ASPER HELPING HAND interest-free loan program.

2006 - JCFS publishes a 21st CENTURY PASSOVER: RECIPES FROM THE FRIENDS OF JEWISH CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICE and sells the cookbooks as a fundraiser. The Eve and Harry Vickar Community Assistance Program is established to support Jewish individuals in Winnipeg living with poverty. JCFS wins an Association of Jewish Families and Children’s Agencies award for its website design.

2007 - JCFS establishes the JACS program to help Jews in recovery from addictions.

2008 - JCFS sponsors a STARS OF TOMORROW fundraiser in support of Jewish children in foster care.

2009 - JCFS begins offering employment services for new immigrants, incorporating the initiative into its Resettlement and Integration department.

2012 - JCFS celebrates a CENTURY OF CARING, commemorating 100 years of Jewish social services in Winnipeg and the 60th anniversary of the agency. JCFS’s new Incorporation Act is introduced and passed in the Manitoba Provincial Legislative, replacing the original petition from 1952.

2014 - JCFS spearheads “Opening the Door: Conversations about Addiction,” a two day conference addressing issues related to addictions, treatment and recovery. Al Benarroch is appointed JCFS Executive Director. 

2015 - JCFS assumes a leadership role in a community-wide initiative to rescue and resettle Yazidi refugees in Winnipeg.