Expanding In All Directions

Local organizations joined the migration as the center of Jewish life shifted from city to suburbs. Jewish communal institutions expanded to support the growing population.

By the 1950s, historic downtown facilities were aging and inadequate to meet the needs of the expanding regional community. Real estate developer Charles E. Smith led the effort to move the Jewish Community Center, Hebrew Home for the Aged, and the Jewish Social Service Agency to a unified location in Montgomery County. In 1969, the three organizations opened new buildings on a 21-acre site on Montrose Road in Rockville. By the 1980s, the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) moved to the same site, followed by the Jewish Community Council in the 1990s, creating a centralized campus of Jewish institutional life.

For many years the United Jewish Appeal, founded in Washington in 1937, had led fundraising campaigns in support of Jewish settlement in Palestine. By the 1960s, the UJA began increasing support for local Jewish organizations as well.

Map showing population distribution from 1956 demographic survey

1956: The Jewish Community Council published the first major demographic study of the Jewish community.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Aaron Goldman. 1998.41

ground-breaking photo

1968: Charles E. Smith (far right) at the ground-breaking ceremony for the new Rockville “campus” of Jewish organizations.

Copyright Washington Post; reprinted by permission of the DC Public Library.

bldg under construction

1990: After 5,000 people attended a “Hanukah Happening” in Northern Virginia in 1977, the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (JCCNV) formed. Located in a former school on Little River Turnpike in Fairfax, the JCCNV offered classes, programs, and recreational activities for the growing Northern Virginia Jewish population. In 1990, the JCCNV dedicated a new building on the same site, shown here under construction.

Courtesy of Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia.

Doug Wilder w/mezuzah

1991: Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder attaches the mezuzah to the Henry S. Reich Building of the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia at its dedication. Rabbi Jack Moline of Agudas Achim Congregation is on the right.

Courtesy of Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia.

Photo of Miriam Bazelon

1959: Miriam Bazelon served as the first woman president of the Jewish Social Service Agency. By the mid-1960s, JSSA had evolved, in Bazelon’s words, from giving “breadbaskets to the poor” to become a major provider of a broad range of professional social services.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Jewish Social Service Agency. 1998.02

cover of 1959 Honor Roll

1959: UJA’s annual fundraising campaigns were conducted by community volunteers in person-to-person solicitations. The Honor Roll, published each year, listed each Washington supporter who contributed ten dollars or more.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Daniel Thursz. 2001.15

photo of 1964 campaign leaders

1964: By the 1960s, UJA began to take on a greater role in fundraising for local programs. Here with local philanthropist Paul Himmelfarb (center) are local UJA leaders, from left to right, Dr. Seymour Alpert, Rabbi Isadore Breslau, Joseph Ottenstein, and UJA President Hymen Goldman.

JHSGW Collections.

government division letterhead/flyer w/graphic

1965: The Government Division became one of the largest and most active fundraising divisions within UJA. Federal workers in the Post Office, IRS, Patent Office, and other agencies volunteered to solicit their fellow Jewish workers for support.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. 2004.14

government division letterhead/flyer w/graphic

1976: UJA expanded its role to become the United Jewish Appeal Federation of Greater Washington, acting as the centralized fundraising body for local Jewish agencies and Israel. In 1978, the Federation initiated its “Super Sunday” phone-a-thon, engaging hundreds of volunteers in an annual fundraising event.

JHSGW Collections. Gift of Ruth White. 2002.19

Map showing population distribution from 1956 demographic survey
ground-breaking photo
bldg under construction
Doug Wilder w/mezuzah
Photo of Miriam Bazelon
cover of 1959 Honor Roll
photo of 1964 campaign leaders
government division letterhead/flyer w/graphic
government division letterhead/flyer w/graphic