In 1918, a dedicated group of volunteers in Oakland founded the Jewish Welfare Federation as an organized fundraising effort to meet the needs of the local community and of European Jews. At that time, the Holocaust was still years in the future; the State of Israel was yet to be born; Oakland was the single center of the East Bay Jewish community; Contra Costa County was farm and grazing land and San Francisco was a distant ferry ride away.
The Foundation, originally called the Endowment Fund under the Federation auspices, became a separate organization in 1988. With a professional team in place, the Foundation grew from a few million dollars in 1988 to $80 million currently, comprised of supporting foundations, donor advised funds, endowments and the unrestricted community fund.
Over the years, the Jewish Federation and The Jewish Community Foundation changed to respond to the growth and needs of the community. Today the East Bay is home to over two dozen congregations, three Jewish day schools, two Jewish community centers and over a dozen other Jewish organizations.
For 93 years, the Federation and Foundation have served the East Bay and Jews across the world. In that time, our purpose has not changed: to create a more vibrant Jewish community in the East Bay, in Israel and throughout the world.