The Jewish Hospital of Cincinnati, established in 1850 with funds donated by the local Jewish community, was the nation's first Jewish hospital. For over 150 years the Jewish Hospital provided state-of-the-art medical care and services to the citizens of Cincinnati. In 1994, in response to the nation's rapidly changing healthcare environment and the move toward multi-hospital consolidation, the Jewish Hospital made a contribution of over $200 million to become part of the Health Alliance of Greater Cincinnati. The original Burnet Avenue facility was closed and consolidated with the new and enlarged Kenwood facility. With almost $70 million in excess assets, a strategy to create a Jewish foundation with resources to invest in Cincinnati's Jewish community began to evolve.
In 1995, the assets from the Jewish Health System were transferred to the newly incorporated Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati. The first officers and trustees were designated and the work of The Jewish Foundation was under way.
The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati is the oldest continuously operating Jewish Federation in North America, established in 1896.
During the 1990s, there was a growing concern – shared by many in Cincinnati – that Jewish youth in America felt less connected to the broader organized Jewish community and to the State of Israel, the homeland of the Jewish people.
The original trustees of The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati acted on that concern by creating a groundbreaking initiative to encourage more young people in our community to participate in Israel educational programs, which had already developed a track record as critical Jewish identity-building experiences.
Since 2000, more than 2,000 Jewish young people from Cincinnati have traveled to Israel to develop stronger more personal connections with Israel and their Jewish heritage. Cincinnati holds the distinction of sending more Jewish youth per capita on these Israel travel programs than any other Jewish community in North America. Over the past 10 years The Jewish Foundation has provided over 1,300 grants and over 2,100 Israel grants. The collaboration between these two local Jewish organizations is unprecedented in North America.
The program is a collaborative effort between The Jewish Foundation, which provides 100% of the funding, and the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, which is responsible for marketing the program, vetting applications, and administering the grants.