Youngstown’s first known Jewish residents moved to our area in 1837 although there is some evidence that there were Jews here as early as 1826. The Jews who settled here at that time and throughout the 1800’s migrated from Germany and Austria. Many of them were early peddlers and become prominent merchants the most well-known name being that of C.J. Strouss. Youngstowners first synagogue Rodef Sholom was founded in May 12, 1867. From the 1800’s to 1920 Youngstown experienced a large influx of Jews from Eastern Europe and a number of synagogues were founded during that period.
The Jewish Social Service bureau pre-existed the Federation and was an organization that provided for the social welfare needs of the Jewish residents of Mahoning County. In 1935, a group of men and women got together to discuss a way to support the needs of Jews locally and overseas. In August 1935 the Jewish Federation of Youngstown was established. During the first year $37,000 was raised. Over the years departments were created to meet the needs of various segments of the Jewish community. In 1981, the Federation merged with the communities of Warren, Ohio and Sharon, Pennsylvania (Shenango Valley to form the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation.
Today the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation is the central organization established to foster the welfare of the entire Jewish community. It co-ordinates and plans for the future of the community and plays an instrumental role in providing for the social welfare, cultural, programmatic, recreational and fundraising needs of our region. In addition, through the Combined Jewish Appeal’s annual Campaign, the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation provides for the needs of Jews around the world and in Israel. The Federation philosophy is to provide relief through the Jewish values of Tzedekah (righteous giving) and Tikun Olam (repairing of the world). Locally the Federation supports: