In the 1830s Richmond welcomed a new wave of German Jewish immigrants. By 1841, on the outskirts of Richmond, these new immigrants founded Beth Ahabah to continue their traditions from the old country, such as including German and English in worship. As the Richmond Jewish population continued to grow, encouraged by Rabbi Maximillian Michelbacher, the women of Beth Ahabah joined together to aid those in need, helping the sick and assisting with burials. The year was 1849 and the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Association (LHBA) was born.
As of January 1st, Jewish Family Services entered our 170th Anniversary Year, and it will be a year of remembrance and celebration. We start by recalling our roots as the LHBA worked diligently on behalf of those in need; from going into the homes of impoverished Jews who had fallen ill with Tuberculosis to welcoming and resettling Jewish-European immigrants in the 1890s and once again after the Holocaust.
In 1954, LBHA transitioned from being composed entirely of volunteers into a modern social services agency, Jewish Family Services. Jewish Family Services emerged as a confidential family counseling center, and soon expanded to include senior care and adoption.
For the next fifty years JFS continued to grow to meet the developing needs of our community. Programs opened up to serve the needs of everyone in the community, Jewish and non-Jewish. One initiative to combat homelessness included the Rap Center, now the Daily Planet. The Russian resettlement program of the 1980-1990s reminded us of our immigrant roots.
Today, we continue to honor this time old tradition of meeting the needs in our community. JFS care programs support persons with disabilities and seniors with their daily lives. JFS adoption creates families. JFS counseling helps children, families and seniors tackle their challenges.
Most recently, in partnership with the whole Jewish community, JFS launched the Richmond Jewish Care Line to respond with care to those in need. Too many people in our own community face stress due to a job loss, illness, or other family emergency; the Care Line is in place to provide a range of short term services to those in need. If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, please call the Care Line at 804-525-8299.
L’dor va’dor, from generation to generation, JFS has served the needs of our community. Many Richmond families have provided multiple generations of JFS leaders including, the Whitlock, Thalhimer, Schwarzschild, Straus, Bendheim, and Cohen families. To mark the dedication of our community and our 170 year milestone, JFS will spend 2019 hosting a series of reunion gatherings for JFS Leaders, volunteers, client families, employees, donors and friends, culminating in a 170th Birthday party in the fall.
Throughout 170 years, Richmond has turned to JFS for compassionate care, to transform lives and build a stronger community. You and your family are a part of the JFS story… past, present, and future. Come celebrate our JFS legacy!