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The History of Jewish Family Services

In 1898, a visionary group of Jewish leaders from Wilmington embarked on a journey to improve people’s lives in the community.  Originally named the Hebrew Charity Association, the organization’s early mission was clear:

To alleviate the suffering of unfortunate members of our Jewish community; to assist them to become self-supporting; to act as a peace committee to adjust the differences between member of the Jewish community; and to perform all such duties as may come before us in the name of charity.

By November 1930, the Hebrew Charity Association was incorporated, comprising 17  signatories who met regularly in an office at the corner of Eighth and Orange Streets in Wilmington.  Under the 23-year leadership of Morris Levy, the organization achieved great stability, touching lives through financial, legal and medical aid. 

By the 1960s, services had expanded dramatically and the agency’s name was changed to Jewish Family Service of Delaware.  In 2005 the agency again changed its name to Jewish Family Services of Delaware. Today the agency serves more than 1600 individuals throughout the Brandywine Valley and Delaware.

JFS continues to evolve to this day, yet its core mission has never changed: To provide counseling, care management and community education, guided by Jewish values, to strengthen the well-being of the individual, family and community.  

JFS maintains extensive collaborative partnerships nationally, statewide and locally.   These collaborations serve to strengthen our programs, assist in advocating for our clients raising public awareness and offer the best practices. The partnerships include the State’s Department of Children Youth and Their Families, the Department of Health and Social Services and non-profit agencies including senior centers, community centers, youth groups, educational institutions & retirement communities. Agencies that maintain contractual relationships for JFS services including but not limited to West End Neighborhood House Life Lines program, B’nai B’rith House, Ministry of Caring, the YMCA Resource Center, United Cerebral Palsy and Bayada Nurses. JFS is also associated with an extensive network of social service organizations throughout the state including the Coalition for Children and Family Agencies and the Delaware Aging Network.

JFS is a partner agency of the United Way of Delaware, a constituent agency of the Jewish Federation of Delaware and a member of the national Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies. Its services are fully accredited by the Council on Accreditation.

Past Presidents

1899–1922            Morris Levy*
1923–1924            Louis Topkis*
1925                    Charles K. Breuer*
1926                    Max Keil*
1927–1929            Louis Topkis*
1930–1931            Charles K. Breuer*
1932–1934            I. B. Finkelstein*
1935–1936            Nathan Miller*
1937                    Max Keil*
1938–1940            Henry Tavel*
1941–1942            Nathan Miller*
1943–1944            Max Keil*
1945–1947            Philip Cohen*
1948–1949            David S. Keil*
1950–1951            Charles Lipstein*
1952–1954            Hillard Greenstein*
1955–1957            E. M. Budner*
1958–1960            Adolph Markel, Jr.
1961–1962            Julian Agroos*
1963–1964            Edward Schall
1965–1966            Charles Klein*
1967                    Jacob Balick

1968–1969            Marilyn Gelb*
1970–1971            Judith Wilk
1972–1973            Theodore C. Zutz
1974–1975            Andrew Miller           
1976–1977            Bernard Kreshtool*
1978–1980            James Chaikin
1980–1982            Ruth Balick
1982–1984            Irwin Engelson
1984–1986            Gilbert Sloan
1986–1988            Efrem Lieber
1988–1990            Leslie Newman
1990–1992            Norman Pernick
1992–1994            Joan Wachstein
1994–1996            David Krigstein*
1996–1998            Lawrence Drexler
1998–2000            Andrew Aerenson
2000–2002            Glenn Engelmann
2002-2004            Jill Engel Flambaum
2004-2006            Stephen R. Tanny

2006–2008            Natalie Woloshin
2008-2010                  Steven A. Colton
2010-Present         Arlene Wilson




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