Eleven boxes of archival materials related to the Central Bureau for the Jewish Aged (CBJA) are now open and available to researchers. The CBJA files capture the most complete account of the Central Bureau, from the incorporation of the agency to final sets of Executive Committee minutes, with coverage from 1945-1988.
The Central Bureau for the Jewish Aged (CBJA) was founded as an umbrella agency (an agency made of many other agencies) by the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies in 1945 and continued through the merger of the Federation with the United Jewish Appeal of Greater New York until circa 1988.
Cover of pamphlet, “Thirty-One Work Together: The Story of the Central Bureau for the Jewish Aged,” circa 1951
In the minutes of the January 1988 Central Bureau Executive Committee meeting, a member of the committee recounted that the Central Bureau began as an extension or offshoot of Jewish Family Services (JFS) “at a time when work with the elderly was considered unimportant.” Unlike a Federation-affiliated agency that interacted directly with elderly Jewish clients and their respective families, the Central Bureau was established as a way to organize a variety of different agencies that, at least in part, offered direct service and programs to the Jewish aged. Moreover, the umbrella agency was unique in several other respects: it was a Federation subvention agency, rather than an affiliated institution, that planned, coordinated, and facilitated communication between Federation and non-Federation agencies providing care and services to the Jewish aged and, at its height, collaborated with agencies located throughout New York City and in New Jersey. In a collaborative spirit that seems ahead of its time, the by-laws of the Central Bureau committed the agency “[t]o serve as the instrumentality through which the metropolitan Jewish community may study the methods for best providing effective care for the aged…” where the best and most effective care for the Jewish aged in New York or New Jersey might come from a Federation-affiliated or non-affiliated agency.
Centerfold of pamphlet, “Thirty-One Work Together: The Story of the Central Bureau for the Jewish Aged,” circa 1951
The Central Bureau was supported by member agency dues and, as a subvention agency, an annual grant from the Federation. There were 28 original member agencies that comprised the Central Bureau in 1945, 31 member agencies in 1951, and, by 1966, had doubled its membership with 52 participating agencies. Near the time of the Bureau’s dissolution sometime in 1988, their Executive Committee was especially concerned about the future of the agency, in that, their membership had decreased to 28 agencies. The number of member agencies fluctuated and the roster of agencies changed, but included homes for the aged, hospitals, family agencies, group work agencies, camps, and an employment and guidance service agency.
We are greatly enthused that this portion of the UJA-Federation of New collection is now available for research; the CBJA files demonstrate an enviable sense of collaboration and coordination between Federation agencies and other institutions that provided care and services to the Jewish elderly in New York and New Jersey.