The Cincinnati Bureau of Jewish Education was originally established in 1887. In the 1880s, all of the major synagogues in Cincinnati maintained their own religious schools. To try and coordinate the educational efforts, two prominent Cincinnatians, Moses Isaacs and Dov Behr Manischewitz, established a Talmud Torah. It moved to its first permanent location in 1892. By that time, two hundred children were registered at its school, which met at the Mishnah Society on Court St. Its success continued to such an extent that by the early 1900s it had over 600 pupils apply annually for its 300 spaces.
In 1914, when Dov Behr Manischewitz died, he left a bequest of $3,000, which provided the incentive the community needed. An additional $15,000 was raised in just three weeks, and a new and modern building was erected which served the community until 1927.
In 1924, the decision was made to form a Bureau of Jewish Education in Cincinnati. The Talmud Torah Society chose to affiliate with the new Bureau. The Bureau elected to make the opening of new schools as a top priority: an additional school was built in Avondale in 1927, and by 1937 there were schools in Avondale, West End, Price Hill, and Newport, KY. By 1940 the Bureau was overseeing the Jewish education of more than six hundred pupils at seven schools.
The Bureau was also involved in providing their extra-curricular activities for Jewish youth. Organizations such as Young Judaea and Habonim met at the Bureau; forums were conducted by the Yiddish Culture Federation, Young Israel, Workmen’s Circles, and other groups. In the evening, recreational pursuits were offered by the Jewish Center and Big Brothers.
In 1952, the Bureau separated from the Talmud Torah Association. A study of Jewish Education, commissioned by the Jewish Federation in 1967, recommended revitalizing the Bureau to meet the new needs of a new era. The Jewish school system continued to undergo change, and by 1998 the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati proposed that the Bureau’s operations, program and staff become the Council on Jewish Life and Learning, a part of Federation.