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History of the Greensboro Jewish Federation

In 1940, 58,000 people lived in Greensboro, of whom 250 were Jewish.  The Greensboro United Charities, incorporated by the State of North Carolina in August 1940, has consistently mirrored the needs of Jews the world over.  Founding members of the Charities included Ceasar Cone II, Walter J. Bernstein, Herbert S. Falk and Sidney J. Stern, Sr.  Also involved in the early beginnings were Milton Zauber, Ben Cone, Sr. and Max Zagar.  In the early years, the major emphasis was support of Jewish defense agencies.  With the advent of the war years, attention focused on the Jews of Europe.  Greensboro assisted eight refugee families to relocate to Greensboro.  After the war, the Charities worked to support the establishment of the State of Israel and to develop local Jewish agencies.

In 1967, Larry Cohen established an office for the Greensboro United Jewish Charities to respond to the war in Israel.  He rallied the Jewish community of Greensboro; developed a well organized campaign, and in later years hired the first executive director.  In 1968, with Leah Tannenbaum as its first president, the Women's Cabinet was formed to raise additional dollars for the campaign and to raise consciousness about worldwide Jewish issues.  In 1972, the organization became the Triad Jewish Federation, incorporating both the High Point and Winston-Salem Jewish communities.  In 1978, it was reorganized to form the Greensboro Jewish Federation.  The 50th anniversary of the Federation was celebrated in 1991 and a decision was also reached that year to resettle Jews from the former Soviet Union.  Over 150 individuals have been resettled in Greensboro since that initial decision.

Seeing a need to serve the social service needs of the Greensboro Jewish community, Sue Green and Tobee Kaplan headed an effort to found the Jewish Family Service agency in 1991.  Michael Berkelhammer and Leonard Kaplan spearheaded the effort to found the Jewish Foundation of Greensboro in 1996 to develop and administer endowment funds of the Federation and of other agencies and institutions in the Jewish community of Greensboro and surrounding areas.

In 1997, through the vision of Tobee and Leonard Kaplan, the Greensboro Jewish Federation moved from its offices at Temple Emanuel to its current location in the Guilford College area.  Federation shares its facility with Jewish Family Services and the Jewish Foundation of Greensboro. The BJH Foundation for Senior Services leases space from the Federation, and B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, Greensboro Chapter of Hadassah, and N.C. Hillel-Greensboro Area also have utilized the building.

The Federation now has over 1,100 annual contributors and raises over $1.55 million. Greensboro has a population of almost 200,000; the Jewish community numbers approximately 3,000, or 1,200 families.