S.F. agencies: 100 years of assistance

It is sometime in the mid-1800s. Golden Gate Park is sand dunes, the Civil War is still years away and California is the Union's newest state. San Francisco, a remote outpost only a few years before, is a thriving metropolis with 300,000 residents.

And within its boundaries, a Jewish community is taking shape.

In 1849 the first West Coast Rosh Hashanah service is held in a tent on Jackson Street near Kearny. Thirty Jews attend. On Yom Kippur, the number grows to 50.

A year and a half later, San Francisco has two temples, Emanu-El and Sherith Israel, whose combined memberships total 162.

By the late 1880s, San Francisco is home to about 1,200 families. But poverty, health-care issues and the needs of the aged, infirm and orphaned weigh heavily on the community. Wishing to responsibly care for their own, Jewish leaders organize groups and draft charters; soon agencies begin operating. They continue to this day.