Jewish Federations of North America

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The Jewish Federations of North America represents 153 Jewish Federations and over 300 Network communities, which 'raise and distribute more than $3 billion annually for social welfare, social services and educational needs. The Federation movement, collectively among the top 10 charities on the continent, protects and enhances the well-being of Jews worldwide.'[1]


The JFNA has its beginnings in the United Palestine Appeal, founded in 1925, to unify the fundraising efforts of Israel based organizations including the Jewish National Fund, Hadassah and Hebrew University. It was dissolved in 1930, but was brought back to life in 1936. In 1939, together with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, it founded the United Jewish Appeal, and was its principal beneficiary.

By 1952 it became known as United Israel Appeal (UIA). In 1971, the Jewish Agency was reconstituted, and UIA's role in the Agency as representative of the U.S. fund-raising community was enhanced to encompass the monitoring as well as the transfer of funds. From its inception, UIA served as the sole American fundraising agency for the Jewish Agency for Israel, and provided a link between the American Jewish community and Israel.[2]

In 1999 Council of Jewish Federations, (CJF), United Israel Appeal (UIA), and United Jewish Appeal (UJA) merged into the United Jewish Communities (UJC). In 2009 the UJC changed its name to the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA). DReporting the change ithe Jewish Telegraphic Agency noted some of the reasoning:

The UJC says its name isn't working, as few of the federations it represents have attached the letters to their own names. The organization has been involved in a yearlong marketing research initiative costing more than $1 million. The lack of uniformity of name at times has made it difficult for donors to find a federation from state to state. The idea is to convey that the federations are all part of one system... The federation system will try to get all of its constituents to have some uniformity in their names that would include "Jewish federation." UJC leaders believe the process will not be overly difficult, as more than 130 of the 157 federations already have Jewish federation in their names.[3]

UIA survived the merger as a wholly owned subsidiary of JFNA.[4]


The JFNA maintained a member directory until around 2015.[5]


The governance structure of the Jewish Agency[6]

The JFNA/UIA has 30% of the votes for the governing body of the Jewish Agency for Israel. Keren Hayesod (which does not operate in the US, but covers the rest of the world) is allocated 20%. The remaining 50% is allocated to the World Zionist Organization.[6]


Further Reading

  • P. Bernstein, To Dwell in Unity: The Jewish Federation Movement in America Since 1960 (1983);
  • M. Davis (ed.), UJA Memoirs: Irving Bernstein: An Oral History Anthology (1994);
  • D.J. Elazar, Community & Polity: The Organizational Dynamics of American Jewry (1976, rev. 1995);
  • M. Golensky and G.L. DeRuiter, "The Urge to Merge: A Multiple-Case Study," in: Nonprofit Management & Leadership, 13:2 (2002), 169–186;
  • A.J. Karp, To Give Life: The UJA in the Shaping of the American Jewish Community (1981);
  • M.L. Raphael, A History of the United Jewish Appeal 1939 – 1982 (1982);
  • J.R. Solomon and S.H. Wachsstock, "Reflections on the UJC Merger: Issues Faced and Lessons Learned," in: Journal of Jewish Communal Service, 79:1 (2002), 23–27;
  • E. Stock, Partners and Pursestrings: A History of the United Israel Appeal (1987).


Wall Street Station
PO Box 157
New York, NY 10268
Phone: 212.284.6500


  1. JFNA About Us. Accessed 16 February 2014.
  2. Jewish Virtual Library United Jewish Communities. Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 28 March 2016 on 10 October 2020.
  3. Jacob Berkman "UJC To Get Name Change", Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 9, 2009 7:49pm. Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 25 August 2012 on 12 October 2020.
  4. Jewish Federations of North America BACKGROUND - UNITED ISRAEL APPEAL - THE JEWISH FEDERATIONS OF NORTH AMERICA. Retrieved from the Internet Archive of 28 July 2013 on 12 October 2020.
  5. JFNA Federation Directory. Accessed 5 February 2015.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Jewish Agency Jewish Agency Governance Structure. Accessed 16 February 2014.