Community centers might be considered, along with other communal agencies, to be the most visible representations of Jewish communal life in New York. Their number and the quantity of their members throughout the history of UJA-Federation activities have mirrored the presence and influence of the Jewish population of New York.
The leaders of Federation of Jewish Philanthropies were proud, and for good reason, of the growth of its agencies and services in the Metropolitan New York area in the early 1960s. One of the signs of that pride was the map below, published by the organization in 1961. It contained 116 agencies throughout the five boroughs and Long island area, and reflected the activities of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies at its zenith.
The next map, published in 1978, contains a smaller number of agencies, and it reflected the demographic and social changes in the Jewish and general population of the New York City.
Adding context to the information contained in these maps, the Oral History interviews of UJA-Federation (now online through “S”) contain a wealth of information on the leadership and agency activities during this time of crucial change, including the issues and controversies which accompanied the work of the agencies, especially the community centers, in the 1960s-1970s. One of these issues was the question of rendering community services to non-Jewish New Yorkers and Jewish support for a growing minority population; this was championed by some and objected to by others, as can be seen from Wilma (Billie) Tisch oral history interview, pp. 92-97, which will be available online soon.
Today, UJA-Federation still provides a wide range of services through the whole Metropolitan New York area, as can be seen from the interactive map on their website.