Our History

Our History

For almost 130 years, we have been serving our neighbors in the Washington metropolitan region with compassion, expertise, and respect.

JSSA History Timeline: 1893 to 2022


19th Century


Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA) has its origins in the United Hebrew Charities and the Hebrew Relief Society of the District of Columbia with the mission to clothe, feed and provide shelter for needy Jews – especially immigrants.

20th Century


  • United Hebrew Charities and Hebrew Relief Society incorporate and merge into the United Hebrew Society of D.C.


  • United Hebrew Relief Society changes its name to the Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA) and begins keeping regular records.
  • JSSA focuses on securing employment for European refugees and carrying casework responsibility for Jewish foster children


  • JSSA moves into its first building on Spring Road in Northwest, D.C.
  • JSSA opens a dental clinic run by volunteer dentists.


  • Jewish Foster Home and JSSA casework staff and services combine.


  • JSSA transitions from a relief agency to a social service agency and grows its adoption program.


  • JSSA institutes a “fee-for-service” policy for counseling for those who can afford to pay for services.


  • JSSA’s Child Guidance Clinic opens. It is the first outpatient treatment center for children in the metropolitan area. Within the first 2 years the clinic serves 562 children and parents.


  • JSSA’s fundraising campaigns increase, the adoption program continues to grow and group counseling becomes integrated into JSSA’s services. JSSA institutes a foster care program, psychiatric treatment for emotionally disturbed children and a volunteer “Friend-to-Friend” program for troubled youth.


  • JSSA opens a branch office in Wheaton Plaza as the Jewish community continues to migrate to the suburbs.
  • JSSA, the JCC of Greater Washington and the Hebrew Home buy land on Montrose Road in Rockville.


  • Ground is broken on JSSA’s current Montrose Road office.
  • JSSA rents an office in Washington at 15th and H Streets, NW.
  • JSSA opens the Bombé Chest – a volunteer run resale and consignment shop on Connecticut Avenue, NW.


  • In response to the race riots in the District following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., JSSA works with Jewish and black business owners to rebuild damaged or destroyed businesses.
  • The Kosher Meals-On-Wheels program for homebound seniors launches.
  • JSSA increases its social work staff to serve the growing aging population.


  • JSSA moves into the Montrose Road office and closes the Wheaton location.


  • JSSA helps establish two group homes for emotionally disturbed adolescents.
  • JSSA hires its first registered nurse to coordinate homemaker services for the elderly.
  • JSSA launches a Jewish Big Brother/Big Sister program.


  • Aging becomes the largest department at JSSA.


  • Jewish Family Life Education (JFLE) program is created with workshops on interfaith marriage and the Jewish life cycle.


  • New agency departments are established: Family Services, Services to Children, Aging, Volunteers and Refugees.


  • JSSA responds to rise in the number of Russian and Iranian refugee families. The agency offers resettlement services such as help with housing, employment and integration into the local Jewish community.


  • JSSA’s home health service receives its Medicare certification and the agency adds physical, speech, and occupational therapy to the skilled nursing and aide care services it offers.


  • JSSA sends 3 social workers to the Northern Virginia JCC to offer counseling for children, adults and couples.


  • JSSA opens an office in Hyattsville.
  • JSSA’s first hospice patients are admitted.


  • JSSA offers pediatric home health and hospice services.
  • JSSA establishes a D.C. presence in the new DCJCC.


  • JSSA establishes its Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) offering employment services, professional mentor programs, job clubs for refugees, counseling and supported employment for individuals with hearing impairments and developmental disabilities.


  • JSSA’s Newcomer Resettlement program surges as emigration restrictions in the Soviet Union are eased.
  • JSSA’s Himmelfarb Mobile University is established and run by volunteers, offering classes on a wide variety of topics to seniors in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.


  • JSSA begins providing service to hospice patients in nursing homes, including the Hebrew Home.
  • JSSA establishes a crisis team to help those afflicted by a community tragedy.
  • JSSA introduces a clinic for children with ADHD and their parents.


  • JSSA moves into an office in Annandale, Virginia.


  • JSSA hosts its first annual professional symposium.


  • JSSA moves its Gaithersburg office on Firstfield Road.


  • JSSA launches Premier Homecare, providing private-duty home care aides, homemakers and companions to the elderly and individuals with disabilities.
  • JVS relocates to new offices in Silver Spring.

21st Century:  2000 – Present


  • JSSA relocates its Northern Virginia office to Fairfax.


  • JSSA starts the Transitions program – a volunteer-run program providing respite care for family members dealing with serious and terminal illness.
  • JSSA introduces its Early Childhood Intervention program.


  • Jewish Chaplaincy Services joins JSSA.


  • A capital campaign is launched to raise funds to build JSSA’s new agency headquarters in the Fallsgrove community of Rockville.
  • JSSA Hospice celebrates its 20th anniversary.


  • Construction begins on JSSA’s new Fallsgrove Ina Kay Building.


  • JSSA doubles its Fairfax office space and services.
  • JSSA, together with the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia, launches Going Places! – A social club for young adults with Asperger’s syndrome and related disorders


  • JSSA re-brands the agency and launches a new state-of-the art website.
  • JSSA opens the doors of its new headquarters, the Ina Kay Building, in the Fallsgrove community of Rockville. The new building consolidates staff and services, replacing JSSA offices in Bethesda, Gaithersburg and Rockville.


  • JSSA receives The Greater DC Cares 2009 Business and Nonprofit Philanthropy Award for Community Impact.
  • JSSA wins The Marriott Spirit to Serve Community Service Award from the Montgomery County Volunteer Center.
  • JSSA receives the highest possible rating – 4-stars – from Charity Navigator, America’s leading independent charity evaluator in recognition of sound fiscal management.


  • JSSA expands Collaborative Divorce, Employment and Career Services, Training Institute programs, anti-bullying education, and the award-winning Going Places! social clubs for teens and young adults with Asperger’s syndrome.
  • JSSA launches JLink in response to the economic downturn. This collaboration with the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington connects the unemployed with JSSA employment and social work services.
  • JSSA is approved as a provider of Core of Knowledge for childcare providers in Maryland, DC and Virginia.
  • JSSA receives – for the 2nd consecutive year – the highest possible rating – 4-stars – from Charity Navigator.


  • JSSA launches a pro-bono dental assistance program for its Holocaust survivor clients in collaboration with the Alpha Omega International Dental Fraternity and the Maimonides Dental Society of Greater Washington.
  • JSSA re-opens the Silver Spring office after significant renovations.
  • JSSA launches new Suicide Grief Support Program.
  • JSSA receives – for the 3rd consecutive year – the highest possible rating – 4-stars – from Charity Navigator.


  • JSSA receives the highest possible rating – 4-stars – from Charity Navigator for the 4th consecutive year.
  • JSSA launches Social Media platforms: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
  • JSSA and the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (JCCNV) chosen as the 2nd place winner for the 2012 Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies (AJFCA) KOVOD Award for Collaborative Community Partnerships for the Going Places! Social Club program.
  • JSSA launches its community-wide fundraising campaign to support the agency’s Holocaust Survivor Program.


  • JSSA celebrates 120 years of supporting our community
  • JSSA receives the highest possible rating – 4-stars – from Charity Navigator, America’s leading independent charity evaluator in recognition of sound fiscal management.
  • JSSA opens new Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders at JSSA’s Rockville Wood Hill Road location.
  • JSSA opens the new Shelley Kay Child and Family Center on the 1st floor of the Ina Kay Building in Fallsgrove.


  • JSSA Hospice celebrates its 30th anniversary.
  • JSSA expands and enhances its Specialized Employment services for individuals with special needs.
  • JSSA names Todd Schenk as CEO (September 1).


  • JSSA becomes certified as an Autism Waiver Program participant, creating an opportunity for children, adolescents, and young adults in the Maryland Waiver program to receive much needed care and attention from skilled JSSA providers.
  • JSSA Hospice experiences a 40% growth in number of patients and their families served.
  • Holocaust Survivor Program enrollment increases by 50%   A Pro bono eyeglass program is established for Holocaust Survivors.
  • Mental Health & TI Symposium, When Children Fear School, attended by more than 100
  • Potomac Pediatrics and JSSA’s Mental Health Services enter into a new partnership to provide mental health prevention screening for children and adolescents at physician offices.
  • Specialized Employment Services client placement in competitive jobs increase by 400%.


  • Candace G. Kaplan is elected JSSA Board President.
  • JSSA’s Board completes its first-ever five-year Strategic Plan for 2016-2021 with Veralon Consultants.


  • Construction begins on the renovation for the Elsie and Marvin Deckelboum Building” on Montrose Road and a $6.1 million campaign is launched, “Redesigning New Solutions to Senior Care”.  All Montrose Road staff are relocated to a temporary office building in Rockville, Maryland.
  • JSSA launches AIMS, a new model of care that partners JSSA Care management services with physician practices, to reduce the number of hospitalizations for high-risk seniors.
  • Specialized Employment Services receives the “Provider of the Year” award from Maryland Works, Inc.


  • JSSA and Bender JCC of Rockville Symposium, Psychotherapy and Judaism, “How Jewish Wisdom Can Enhance Emotional Well-Being”, with Eric Weiner.
  • JSSA, Suburban Hospital and Hospice Caring present, “Being Mortal, Medicine and What Matters in the End” with Dr. Atul Gawande.
  •  JSSA Hospice, Homecare, Senior and Holocaust Survivor Services staff move back to the newly renovated Elsie and Marvin Dekelboum Building on Montrose Road.
  • JSSA and the Collaborative Project of Maryland launch, “Two Homes, One Family”, a new program to provide collaborative divorce services at affordable costs.
  • JSSA earns its 4-Star Charity rating from Charity Navigator for the 10th consecutive year, an honor shared by only 2% of its rated nonprofits across the country.
  •  JSSA’s Ambassador’s Council is relaunched and renamed from previous Advisory Group with Judy Oppenheim and Barry Perlis as Co-Chairs.


  • Annual Mental Health Symposium, “The Legend of Albert Ellis and the Origin of Cognitive Therapies” is held at the Bender JCC.
  •  JSSA is awarded a contract by Nexus Montgomery for a project, Voice Your Choice to promote the need for all individuals to complete an advance Directive.


  • JSSA Holocaust Survivor Program provides men and women survivors with a new technology,  Uniper, to help combat social isolation made possible by a grant from the Jewish Federations of North America.
  • JSSA sunsets is Adoption Services program.
  • The Isen Family is awarded the 2020 Joseph Ottenstein Award.
  • The SARS/COVID -19 Virus epidemic results in Governor Maryland Hogan’s Stay at Home order and all JSSA’s staff except for essential direct care professionals move to remote work.


  •  J-Caring Community Resource line is launched in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington.
  • JSSA is awarded a contract with Montgomery County Public Schools system to place licensed clinical social workers in 13 public schools
  • JSSA is awarded a contract with Fairfax County’s Healthy Minds program to provide mental health and wraparound services to at-risk youth.
  • Candace G. Kaplan steps down after serving 5 consecutive years as JSSA Board President and Ruth Ruskin, Vice President is elected JSSA’s Board President.
  • JSSA’s Board embarks on a new 5-year Strategic Plan 2022-2027.
  • The Paul Himmelfarb Family is awarded the 2021 Joseph Ottenstein Award.