History of Jewish Family Service of Tidewater

The Talmud declares that “one mitzvah (good deed) leads to another.” Jewish Family Service exists today as one link in a chain of mitzvot, performed by thousands of Jews one at a time and organized together, going back to the earliest settlements in Tidewater.
JFS has had a long-standing tradition of caring and concern for the community it serves. For over 70 years, JFS has been a trusted resource for thousands of individuals each year and lives up to our promise to all community members:

You never know when you’ll need help, but you’ll always know where to find it.

From Generation to Generation,
Our Services are Deeds of Loving Kindness to All

Highlights Throughout the Years

Writer Tim Morton prepared a JFS timeline, tracing the roots of the organization to 1865 through 2003. Although it cannot fully represent the countless deeds of loving kindness committed, this timeline is a testament to the longstanding history of JFS and its predecessors as a beacon of hope for the citizens of Hampton Roads. 


In 1902 nine women in Norfolk establish the Hebrew Ladies Charity Society, merging two groups, to care for unmet needs in the community. Mrs. Fannie Brenner presides for over 25 years. Dues are set at 25 cents a month.


In 1946, The Council of Jewish Women and the Hebrew Ladies Charity Society establish the Jewish Family Welfare Bureau as an independent agency.


In 1948, the Jewish Family Welfare Bureau adopts a new name: It is now called Jewish Family Service (JFS).


In 1969 JFS is incorporated and “Tidewater” is added to its name, recognizing its expanded services on the Peninsula and throughout the Southside.


In 1996, JFS held its 50th Anniversary Gala with special thanks given to its predecessor agencies: Hebrew Ladies Charity and the Tidewater Chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women.


In 2016 JFS moves into its new offices on the Sandler Family Campus, and for the first time, all services are under one roof.

Hebrew Ladies Charity Society

Stay tuned for information coming soon.

© Jewish Family Service of Tidewater