||The Jewish Chautauqua Society (JCS) was founded by Reform Rabbi Henry Berkowitz (1857–1924), of Philadelphia, as a program to educate Jews about their Judaism in 1893. Berkowitz was born in Pittsburgh, Pa. He was a member of the first graduating class of Hebrew Union College in 1883. After occupying pulpits in Mobile, Alabama, and Kansas City, where he succeeded his brother-in-law Joseph Krauskopf, Berkowitz became rabbi of Congregation Rodeph Shalom, Philadelphia (1892). Despite opposition he eliminated many traditional forms from the practice of his congregation and brought it within the mainstream of advanced Reform. Berkowitz established in Philadelphia the Jewish Chautauqua Society, an educational and interfaith organization, and was its chancellor until his death. He took an active part in the establishment of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies in Philadelphia in 1901 and the Philadelphia Rabbinical Association in the same year. He was the first secretary of the Central Conference of American Rabbis. Among his publications are Kiddush or Sabbath Sentiments in the Home (1898) and Intimate Glimpses of a Rabbi's Career (1921).
The Jewish Chautauqua Society evolved from an organization dedicated to popularizing Jewish knowledge among Jews to one devoted to teaching non-Jews about Judaism. Modelled on Chautauqua Institution, the Society established reading circles, a Correspondence School for Hebrew Sunday School teachers, religious schools for the children of Jewish farmers, published textbooks, and, beginning in 1897, held annual assemblies for more than forty years.
Since 1939 the Society has been under the sponsorship of the National Federation of Temple Brotherhoods, a lay Reform organization. It expanded the programs of the JCS, and today primarily supports rabbinic resident lectureships on Judaism at colleges and universities throughout the United States, an outgrowth of university lectures that the JCS began in 1909. Since its inception, the JCS has sought to combat anti-Semitism, dispel prejudice, and create understanding - through education about a minority and religious ethnic component of American society.