Our Modern day federation 

A Brief History

Prior to the late 1950s, there were only two synagogues in the Sarasota-Manatee community and a handful of community-wide Jewish organizations. Our region experienced a post-war population boom and grew substantially as people flocked to the area from the north to enjoy the climate. Many of those responsible for the early growth were prominent Jewish business owners and real estate developers.  The Sarasota Jewish Community Council, the precursor of the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, was formed in 1959 and the Jewish Family Service (now known as Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Sarasota-Manatee) followed in 1984. Today, the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee is one of 146 members of The Jewish Federations of North America, and our two-county community is one of the fastest growing in the United States.  

The United Jewish Appeal

Formed in January of 1939, UJA quickly became the primary American fundraising organization committed to Jewish causes outside the United States. From its outset, the UJA collaborated with regional federations to provide relief to Jewish groups in Europe, sending abroad a portion of the revenue raised by the federations. Between January and December 1939, UJA raised $14 million to help German Jews escape the Nazis.



Post World War II Era

As American Jews confronted the tragedy of the Holocaust, UJA took a central role in bringing Jewish refugees out of Europe and resettling them in the United States. In 1946, the organization collected $100 million during one campaign alone, and in 1947, it oversaw the arrival of more than 25,000 Jewish survivors to the United States. In 1948, UJA’s focus changed dramatically with the founding of the State of Israel. Instead of bringing Jewish war and Holocaust survivors to the United States, UJA raised $200 million in 1948 to resettle them in Israel.

In the late 1950s, Jews in Sarasota-Manatee – who were just beginning to have a noticeable presence in the general community – became concerned with the needs of their brothers and sisters around the world, particularly in Israel. They decided it was time to have a central organization to coordinate the activities of the community.

On February 26, 1959, the Articles of Incorporation were signed, and the charter was granted to the Sarasota Jewish Community Council.



Our Modern Day Federation

In 1980, the name of the organization was changed to the Sarasota Jewish Federation, later amended to include Manatee, our growing community to the north. Finally, in 2009 we emerged as the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee.

Federation leadership and Jewish community donors helped to found three “partner” Jewish agencies: Jewish Family and Children’s Service (1984), the Sarasota-Manatee Jewish Housing Council (1988), and the Flanzer Jewish Community Center (1989-2007).

For many years, the Federation’s primary function was to raise funds and distribute them through unrestricted allocations to the three local partner agencies and overseas (through its parent organization, The Jewish Federations of North America).

Now, all funds are allocated through a granting process, ensuring all funded programs support and advance the Federation’s mission and priorities. All granted programs, including Federation-implemented programs, are subject to an evaluation process to verify each meets stated goals.

Today our mission is to strengthen Jewish life and identity in our community, provide for Jewish people in need, and promote support for Israel.

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