Sometime around 1919, the Family Welfare Committee was set up within the newly created Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Toronto (FJPT) to perform social welfare work with Jewish families. Around 1931, the Committee was reorganized as an independent member agency of the FJPT and renamed the Jewish Family Welfare Bureau (JFWB). At the same time, Dora Wilensky (1902-1959), a professionally-trained social worker, was hired as the agency’s executive director. Throughout its existence, most of its funding came from the FJPT (later the United Jewish Welfare Fund).
Located at 179 Beverley Street, the JFWB’s core activities included: relief provision; helping families meet basic needs, such as medical care, heating and clothing; housekeeping assistance; counseling; and case work. The JFWB’s major concerns shifted over time from a rise of immigration and desertion cases in the 1920s to the dramatic increase of wife abuse, suicide, and unemployment cases during the Great Depression of the 1930s. After the outbreak of the Second World War, the JFWB sought ways of assisting soldiers and their families, such as, investigating special government grants to soldiers.
In an attempt to meet community needs, the JFWB initiated various programs, such as a Homemaking Club to teach women house management skills, and a Clothing Centre to provide families with inexpensive household goods. It also partnered with other local Jewish organizations in the early 1940s in the Liaison Project for troubled Jewish youth. In the 1930s, the Jewish Employment Service and Hebrew Free Burial Society became departments of the JFWB and, in 1941, the JFWB began guaranteeing loans for clients through the Hebrew Free Loan Association. In the same year, the Jewish Big Sister Committee became affiliated with the agency and the Jewish Big Brother Movement followed soon after.
In 1936, the JFWB became one of the first unionized social agencies in Canada when it formed the Staff Association with the Jewish Child Welfare Association (JCWA), another member of the FJPT. Although the JFWB’s focus was work with families and the JCWA’s focus was work with children, both agencies found it necessary at times to work with both children and families. In order to prevent service duplication and reduce confusion over casework responsibility, the Joint Application Bureau was set up within the FJPT to review all case work applications and determine the appropriate agency to provide assistance. However, a merger between the agencies was still believed necessary to improve service to the community and ease confusion. Discussions regarding the co-ordination of services between the JCWA and the JFWB began as early as 1935 and in February 1943, the JCWA and JFWB merged to form the Jewish Family and Child Services (JF & CS).
Scope and Content
Fonds consists of textual records and one architectural drawing documenting the programs, operation, finances, and special studies of the Jewish Family Welfare Bureau as well as its relationships with other organizations. Included are reports, meeting notices, agendas and minutes, correspondence, memos, budgets, statistics, theatrical scripts, newsclippings, and one architectural blueprint. A number of the records relate to special short-lived committees and projects that the JFWB participated in with other agencies, such as the Jewish Big Sister Committee, Jewish Big Brother Committee, Jewish Child Welfare Association, the Jewish Community Centre Association, the Young Men's and Women's Hebrew Association, and the Jewish Old Folks' Home.
Records have been arranged into the following 19 series: 1. Board of Directors; 2. Executive Director; 3. Jewish Federation Communal Council; 4. United Jewish Welfare Fund Men's and Women's Service Council; 5. Case Committe; 6. Joint Meetings and Committees; 7. Joint Application Bureau; 8. Homemaking Club; 9. Clothing Centre; 10. Liaison Project; 11. Operational statistics; 12. Finance and accounting; 13. Human Resources; 14. Special projects and studies; 15. Publicity; 16. Liaison with other social welfare organizations; 17. Canadian Association of Social Workers; 18. Welfare Council of Toronto; and, 19. Conferences.
Associated material note: for related records held at the City of Toronto Archives, see also: Welfare Council of Toronto records in the University Settlement House fonds (fonds 1024, series 658); and, Department of Public Welfare records in the Former City of Toronto fonds (fonds 200).
Jewish Family Welfare Bureau
Jewish Community Centre Association
Young Men's-Young Women's Hebrew Athletic Association (Toronto, Ont.) (subject)
Jewish Old Folks Home (Toronto, Ont.)
United Jewish Welfare Fund (Toronto, Ont.) (subject)
Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Toronto (subject)
Wilensky, Dora, 1902-1959
Partially closed. Researchers must receive permission from the OJA Director and the head of Jewish Family and Child prior to accessing some of the records.
See also: Jewish Child Welfare Association fonds (fonds 86); Jewish Family and Child Services fonds (fonds 79); Federation of Jewish Philanthropies of Toronto fonds (fonds 66); and, United Jewish Welfare Fund fonds (fonds 67).
Records relating to programs, committees and liaison with other organizations that continued after the formation of JF & CS are arranged with that fonds.