125 Years of Dedicated Service

In 1899, 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 less fortunate members of our Jewish community; to assist them to become self-supporting; to act as a peace committee to adjust the differences among members of the Jewish community; and to perform all such duties as may come before us in the name of charity.

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, emphasizing the multitude and variety of “kaleidoscopic” services provided.

Now in 2024, JFS Delaware is celebrating 125 years of dedicated service to the community. JFS has grown and evolved over the past 125 years. A century ago, our focus was the Jewish community. In modern times JFS serves not only the Jewish community, but any Delawareans who need our help. Our positive impact has multiplied. And we have become a highly professionalized and effective service organization — with a compassionate heart and dedication to making the world a better place. That remains unchanged.

Today, JFS offers many diverse services and programs, serving families, youth, older adults, caregivers, and refugees. Growing steadily, JFS offers services in offices in Wilmington and Lewes, as well as in local elementary schools, a subsidized senior housing facility, and homes. Our mission of strengthening individuals, families and the community is rooted in the Jewish values of Tikkun Olam (repairing the world), Kehillah (community), Chesed (kindness), Gemilut Hasadim (Acts of loving kindness), Tikvah (hope), and Tzedakah (creating justice). This mission has guided us on a remarkable journey.

To celebrate this special milestone of 125 years of service, we hosted 125th Anniversary Celebration on April 6, 2024 at the Deerfield Golf Club, Newark, DE, where we enjoyed a night of fun and history. There was cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and silent and live auctions featuring the area’s finest restaurants and businesses, new vacation packages, unique entertainment offerings, original artwork, sporting events, and so much more.

We also honored the late Gilbert J. Sloan, Ph. D. by renaming the JFS Care Navigation Program the Gilbert J. Sloan JFS Care Navigation Program. Dr. Sloan was a strong supporter of JFS for many years and a beneficiary of this program.

At the heart of the JFS 125th Anniversary Celebration, our purpose shone brightly: To celebrate a legacy of unwavering commitment to and compassion for our community. For generations, we have provided help to others when they needed it most. On April 6, we celebrated what that history has shaped: a strong and vibrant JFS, providing essential support services and skilled counseling to all in need. 

125th Anniversary Celebration Program

125th Anniversary Celebration Photos