Celebrating 75 Years


May 10th marks a special date for the Madison Jewish Community. Seventy-five years ago, on May 10, 1940, the Madison Jewish Welfare Fund, the forerunner of today’s Jewish Federation of Madison, was created.

The Madison Jewish Welfare Fund was created as a formal central structure to assist and support displaced European Jews. The Welfare Fund worked in the Jewish community to raise money for Jews overseas and for the growing immigrant population coming to Madison as refugees from Hitler’s Europe. In addition, at the request of the federal government, the Fund became the liaison to Jewish members of the United States armed forces stationed at Madison’s Truax Field.


On April 14, 1948, the Madison Jewish Welfare Fund formally incorporated under the laws of the State of Wisconsin, citing as its purpose the coordination, consolidation and centralization of charitable, educational and cultural fund-raising activities in the Madison Jewish community.


In 1950, its first full-time professional, Bert Jahr, came to work for the Welfare Fund. Having at first devoted itself almost exclusively to fund raising, the Madison Jewish Welfare Fund evolved into a broader organization and eventually acknowledged its expanded role in 1974 by taking a new name, Madison Jewish Community Council.

While continuing its fund raising efforts, the Council began to provide services as well – Camp Shalom day camp for children, founded in 1954; social work services to senior adults and their families; a community newspaper, the Madison Jewish News (1969); the Hilde L. Mosse Gan HaYeled Preschool (1970); and the Midrasha Hebrew High School (1975). In 1978, Jewish Social Services was founded as a separate corporation from the Federation.


In 1995, the Federation moved to its first permanent home, the Max Weinstein Jewish Community Building, named for one of the founders and past presidents of the Federation. In 1999, the Federation established the Irwin A. and Robert D. Goodman Jewish Community Campus on a 154-acre site in the Town of Verona.

In 2009, in response to a much more mobile and interconnected American and world-wide Jewish community, the organization changed its name for the third time and is now the Jewish Federation of Madison.


The Madison Jewish community offers a full spectrum of Jewish experiences from preschool to adult programming and everything in between. The Jewish Federation of Madison develops the resources and creates the initiatives to make Jewish life and living in Jewish Madison vibrant and meaningful.

When tragedy strikes in other areas of the world, the Jewish Federation of Madison works closely with our partner agencies to provide immediate relief and long-term assistance to victims of natural and manmade disasters around the globe, including the Philippines, Haiti, Japan, South Asia, and Nepal and continue to operate programs designed to rebuild infrastructure and community life in disaster-stricken regions. It's at times like this, that our shared commitment to Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, finds its deepest expression.

Our mission remains strong as we continue to work toward building a strong and unified Jewish community in order to ensure the survival, well-being and continuity of the Jewish people in this area, in Israel and throughout the world.


The 75th anniversary of the Jewish Federation of Madison is an opportunity for us to celebrate this community and all that we have done, collectively, over the years while we look ahead to the next 75 years. Mazel tov on the 75th anniversary!

  • Over 200 people celebrated at the Jewish Federation of Madison's 75th Anniversary Gala on October 17th, 2015.