In 1936 Judge Jacob Weinberger united 2,000 Jews, three synagogues and several agencies in San Diego to form the United Jewish Fund (UJF) from the existing Federated Jewish Charities. The goal of the United Jewish Fund was to be on the frontlines helping Jews overseas, especially those affected by the start of the Holocaust. When the war ended and Israel was founded, UJF shifted its assistance to the formation and settlement of Israel.
In 1947, UJF suggested that all San Diego agencies merge into the United Jewish Federation, a name it held until 2010. Federation formed the heart of the merged agency, accepting new beneficiaries and taking the responsibility of funding the growing community.
Through the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, Federation grew rapidly, adding new agencies throughout the county, as the local Jewish population reached 18,000. Federation’s annual funding also grew, from $200,000 in 1947 to over $2,000,000 by 1977. As Federation’s budget increased, so did the need for its assistance. San Diego’s population was expanding every year, and Israel was seeing an increase in attacks, most notably the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Federation also assisted in all major rescues of Jews around the world, including those in the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia, Yemen, and other Arab countries, and has a rich history of helping in areas devastated by natural disaster, such as during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.
Today’s Federation, known as the Jewish Federation of San Diego County, is part of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), which brings together 151 Federations across North America. San Diego’s Federation plays a central role in serving and convening the county’s diverse Jewish communities and agencies, providing opportunities for Jews of all ages to connect with their heritage, help each other and the State of Israel, and ensure San Diego’s Jewish future.