Jews of Florida: Centuries of Stories

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This first comprehensive history of the Jews of Florida from colonial times to the present is a sweeping tapestry of voices. Despite not being officially allowed to live in Florida until 1763, Jewish immigrants escaping expulsions and exclusions were among the earliest settlers. They have been integral to every facet of Florida’s growth, from tilling the land and developing early communities to boosting tourism and ultimately pushing mankind into space. The Sunshine State’s Jews, working for the common good, have been Olympians, Nobel Prize winners, computer pioneers, educators, politicians, leaders in business and the arts and more, while maintaining their heritage to help ensure Jewish continuity for future generations. This rich narrative - accompanied by 700 images, most rarely seen - is the result of three-plus decades of grassroots research by author Marcia Jo Zerivitz, giving readers an incomparable look at the long and crucial history of Jews in Florida.
ISBN: 9781467142533
Format: Hardback
Publisher: The History Press
State: Florida
Series: American Heritage
Images: 700
Pages: 434
Dimensions: 8.5 (w) x 11 (h)
Marcia Jo Zerivitz, LHD, founding executive director, Jewish Museum of Florida–FIU, is a native West Virginian who has lived in Florida for more than half a century. She has been a trailblazer in the American and Floridian Jewish communities and has often broken the glass ceiling. Observing that the Florida Jewish community had a major challenge-its continuity-she resolved to focus on collecting and preserving the stories and material evidence of the contributions of Jews to the Sunshine State and beyond. From 1984 to 1992, Marcia Jo traveled 250,000 miles throughout Florida, conducting grassroots research and retrieving the state’s hidden, 250+ year Jewish history, resulting in a major archive and the MOSAIC: Jewish Life in Florida exhibit that traveled to thirteen cities (1990–94). In 1995, under her direction and planning, this project evolved into the AAM-accredited Jewish Museum of Florida (JMOF) on Miami Beach. She initiated legislation for Florida Jewish History Month (FJHM) each January and Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM) each May to increase awareness of the contributions of Jews to the quality of life for all. Her scholarship has been used in exhibitions, films, historical journals and books; she has been published nationally and internationally. Marcia Jo retired from JMOF in 2011 and continues to curate exhibits, lecture, research and write on Florida Jewish history. The author resides on St. Pete Beach with her husband Elliott, whom she credits as her partner on this journey. As a cultural anthropologist, she is credited with an innovative process that gave the world something they did not have: the compelling story of one ethnic group in a hugely diverse Florida.
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