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Our History

JVS was founded in 1938 during the Great Depression to assist Jewish immigrants and refugees struggling to enter the American workforce and support their families. Today, JVS is among the oldest and largest providers of adult education and workforce development services in Greater Boston, serving a diverse clientele representing over 67 nations, and speaking 59 languages, and helping people secure financial independence through educational and employment services. To learn more about our history, read about our first executive director, Dr. Ida Hoos, and view our agency timeline.

  • 1930’s and 1940’s: In 1938 the Vocational Service of the Associated Jewish Philanthropies (now CJP) was founded to help refugees from Austria and Germany gain skills, secure jobs, build careers, and begin to achieve the American dream. After World War II, JVS assisted refugees from across Europe and also helped returning members of the armed forces and defense workers re-integrate back into the civilian workforce.
  • 1950’s and 1960’s: JVS provided services to Jewish refugees from Hungary and Cuba, and began providing training and employment services to individuals with disabilities.
  • 1970’s: JVS began building its reputation for high-quality English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes by serving newly resettled Soviet emigrés and war refugees from Vietnam.
  • 1980’s to the present: JVS expanded the scope of its services to include immigrants from more than 65 nations and individuals with education, skills, and employment challenges from the greater Boston population and Boston’s Jewish community. Additionally, in the 2000’s and early 2010’s, JVS provided technical assistance to the Dnepropetrovsk Microenterprise Loan Project, run by the Jewish community in Ukraine, which makes loans and gives business advice to underprivileged women to develop or expand new or existing businesses.