Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville is the central voluntary communal organization of the Jewish community. Through its fund-raising, planning, and community relations efforts, either independently or in partnership with other Jewish and non-Jewish organizations, the Federation works to promote the general welfare, viability, and cohesiveness of the Jewish and non-Jewish community of Greater Nashville.



What does the Federation really do?


The Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville is the backbone of the Nashville Jewish community. The Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville is a consensus-building organization that through its annual fundraising efforts provides for the viability of this Jewish community.  The allocations, also consensus driven, of these funds which are a result of the generosity of our donors help local, national, and international Jewish and non-Jewish organizations flourish.

Federations also believe in and act as consensus organizations in every Jewish community in America.


How did the Federation get started?


The Jewish Federation of Greater Nashville was incorporated in 1936.  But the concept is much, much older.  The idea of a Jewish communal response to the needs of Jewish individuals, particularly the poor and sick, dates back to medieval Europe.  It began when secular states declared Jews outside their authority and gave the responsibility for educating the young, nursing the sick feeding the hungry, caring for the aged, and burying the dead to local Jewish “councils” to finance and administer.  Out of necessity grew the kehila, the local Jewish community, which saw to it that the welfare of the human souls living within its geographical borders was met, no matter how limited the resources.

In Nashville, this long tradition of caring for the needs of fellow Jews showed itself as early as 1851 when the first immigrants to settle here established the Hebrew Benevolent Burial Society, purchased land for a communal, Jewish cemetery, and became an umbrella “relief” society.  That tradition of commitment to Jewish communal welfare continues unbroken today.


Isn't the Federation and JCC the same organization?


Not at all!  It is true that in Nashville as well as in many other communities across the country, the Jewish Community Center is the home for the Federation as well as for the Jewish Family Service.  Each of these three very distinct agencies has a unique role within our larger community. In Nashville, the Gordon JCC offers its members opportunities for experiencing a wealth of Jewish cultural, educational, social, and recreational activities.  The Jewish Family Service is a counseling, financial assistance, and case management agency for individual clients.  The Jewish Federation raises funds to finance these basic, important services through its Annual Campaign.


Is the Federation more than fundraising?


The Federation’s other principal functions are planning and budgeting, community relations, and two primary direct services.  The Observer provides news and opinions twice a month to the Nashville Jewish community.  The Federation also funds and manages the Jewish Library and Archives programs, housed in the JCC building.  In addition, the Federation spearheads collaborative efforts in response to community needs.  A recent example of this is the establishment of the Senior Services Committee, which oversees the provision of a wide variety of programs and services to senior adults by various organizations in the Nashville Jewish community based on a recent senior adult needs assessment process.