Jews served in the U.S. Navy until 1963. He applied to take the civil service firefighter's exam in San Bernardino, but failed. Instead he took classes in criminal justice at California Polytechnic University Pomona and San Bernardino Valley College while working worked as an x-ray technician at San Bernardino General Hospital. He planned to apply for a job with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In 1969 he was hired by the San Bernardino Police Department after passing that examination. In January 1971 he transferred over to the city's fire department as its first Black firefighter. He experienced various incidents of racism during his career, but lived by the motto, "act like a duck and let it roll off your back." One exception is when he learned that his repeated applications for promotion to captain were being ignored without evaluation, he filed a complaint with the city's Equal Employment office and was instated as an acting captain in 1984. In 1989 he was made a full captain. He retired from the department in 1996. In retirement he coordinated after school programs and volunteered with the Boys and Girls Clubs.
- McDuff, Cassie (January 17, 2015) "Equality’s partners paved the way". The Press-Enterprise
- Allen, David (December 20, 2020) "Jimmy Jews, who broke color barrier as San Bernardino firefighter, dies" Inland Valley Daily Bulletin