History of the Jews in South Florida
South Florida is a recognized region of the state of Florida, comprising Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties. These counties contain approximately 12% of the land in Florida, but 28% of its population. The University of South Florida, in Tampa, is not in South Florida as the term is used today.
The history of the Jews in South Florida dates back to the early 19th century. Many South Florida Jews are Ashkenazi (descendants of Russian, Polish, and Eastern European ancestry), and many are also Cuban, Brazilian, Latin American (Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Chile), Russian, French, Moroccan, Syrian, Bukharian, and Israeli. There is a significant Sephardic and Mizrachi population as well.
Presently, there are approximately 514,000 Jews living in South Florida.
The population of Palm Beach County is 20% Jewish, which makes it by far the most Jewish county in the United States. "'To find a more densely populated Jewish community, you'd have to go to Israel,' says Richard Jacobs, vice president of community planning for the Boca-based Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County." Boca Raton, with a population of about 95,000, has 16 synagogues.
- 1 Key West, Florida Jewish history
- 2 West Palm Beach, Florida Jewish history
- 3 Miami, Florida Jewish history
- 4 Broward County, Florida Jewish History
- 5 Miami Beach, Florida Jewish History
- 6 Other history
- 7 Jewish religious observance in South Florida
- 8 Chabad in southern Florida
- 9 Significant South Floridian communities and their Jewish populations
- 10 Prominent South Floridian Jews
- 11 See also
- 12 References
- 13 External links
Key West, Florida Jewish history
The exact origins of the Key West Jewish Community are not dated, but Jews were first recorded in the city in the 1880s, when the community was organized by Joe Wolfson, Abraham Wolkowsky and Mendell Rippa. It is believed that most settlers were escaping European persecution at the time. Some early settlers were shipwrecked and decided to make a living in the city. In 1887, Congregation B'nai Zion was founded in Key West, Fl. Morris Zion served as its first president. B'nai Zion's building was built in 1969, and it adheres to Conservative Judaism, though it has a Liberal slant. In 1895, Jewish Key West residents supported the independence of Cuba from Spain.
West Palm Beach, Florida Jewish history
Jews first settled in the city of West Palm Beach in 1892.
Miami, Florida Jewish history
Jews first permanently settled in the Miami, Florida area in 1896. In 1907, the first bris occurred in Miami-Dade County. It was for Eddie Cohen. In 1913, B'nai Zion, the first congregation in Miami-Dade County, was founded. It later was renamed as Beth David. In 1953, Abe Aronovitz became the first and only Jewish mayor of Miami.
Broward County, Florida Jewish History
In 1910, Louis Brown was the first Jew to settle in Broward County.
Miami Beach, Florida Jewish History
The first Jewish family to settle in Miami Beach was the Weiss family, Joseph and Jennie and their children, in 1913. They later opened Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant. The first congregation in Miami Beach was Beth Jacob, which was formed in 1927. The congregation built the first synagogue in 1929 (now the Jewish Museum of Florida.) In 1943, the first of 16 Jewish mayors of Miami Beach, Mitchell Wolfson, was elected to office.
- In 1959, approximately 10,000 Cuban Jews sought refuge in South Florida.
- In 1995, the Jewish Museum of Florida opened.
- In 2004, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, Florida became the first Jewish woman from Florida to be elected to the U.S. Congress.
- In 2012, Scott Israel was elected Sheriff of Broward County, making him the first Jew to be elected Sheriff in Florida history.
Jewish religious observance in South Florida
There are approximately 77 Orthodox synagogues and congregations in South Florida.
There are approximately 40 Reform synagogues and congregations in South Florida.
There are three established Reconstructionist synagogues and congregations in South Florida: Congregation Kol Ami (Palm Beach County), Ramat Shalom (Broward County), and Temple Beth Or (Miami-Dade County).
Chabad in southern Florida
Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens
Chabad of Palm Beach Gardens aims to bring together the Jewish Community of the greater Palm Beach and Jupiter area and to serve the spiritual, educational and social needs of the community.
Chabad of Boca Raton
Chabad of Boca Raton is a Chabad house located in Boca Raton founded in 1989, the present building was erected in 1999. In 1990 city officials permitted it to erect a menorah in Sanborn Square, a city park.
Significant South Floridian communities and their Jewish populations
- Broward County, Florida: approximately 234,000 Jews live in all of Broward County.
- Fort Lauderdale, Florida: 24,377 Jews live in Fort. Lauderdale.
- Pembroke Pines, Florida: approximately 19,988 Jews live in Pembroke Pines.
- Weston, Florida: approximately 18,000 Jews live in Weston.
- Plantation, Florida approximately 11,275 Jews live in Plantation.
- Davie, Florida approximately 11,228 Jews live in Davie.
- South Palm Beach Metropolitan Area, Florida: approximately 122,000 Jews live in all of South Palm Beach (Boca Raton and Delray Beach).
- Boca Raton, Florida: Approximately 64,660 Jews live in Boca Raton.
- Delray Beach, Florida: Approximately 57,340 Jews live in Delray Beach.
- West Palm Beach Metropolitan Area, Florida: approximately 94,000 Jews live in West Palm Beach (Palm Beach County from Boynton Beach to Jupiter).
- Miami Metropolitan Area, Florida: approximately 123,000 Jews live in Miami, an increase from 113,000 in 2004.
- Miami Beach, Florida: Approximately 15,000 Jews live in Miami Beach.
- Aventura, Florida
- Tampa Bay Area, Florida: approximately 60,000 Jews live in the Tampa Bay area.
- Fort Myers, Florida
- Key West, Florida
Prominent South Floridian Jews
- Col. Abraham C. Myers
- Former Florida Governor David Sholtz
- Former Miami Mayor Abe Aronovitz
- Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz
- Representative Ted Deutch
- Representative Lois Frankel
- Secretary of Agriculture Nikki Fried
- Founder of Wometco Theatres and former Miami Beach mayor Mitchell Wolfson
- Former Miami Beach mayor and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine
- Television journalist Chuck Todd
- Banker and former owner of City National Bank of Florida, Leonard L. Abess
- Avraham Lapciuc a scholar who attended Rutgers Business and Philanthropist
- Passy, Charles (October 23, 2005). "Palm Beach County: More Jewish than New York". Palm Beach Post. p. 1A.
- Benveniste, Shelley (October 10, 2013). "Promoting Jewish Medical Ethics in Boca Raton". The Jewisih Press.
The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute(JLI) will present Life in the Balance: Jewish Perspectives on Everyday Medical Dilemmas, the institute's new six-session Fall 2013 course that will begin during the week of Tuesday, October 29.
- Benveniste, Shelley (January 17, 2013). "Rohr JLI Presents Living with Integrity Series". The Jewish Press.
"Living with Integrity" challenges students to articulate their own opinions while providing practical Talmudic wisdom to help them navigate life's inevitable ethical challenges. The course will not only provide the tools to make appropriate decisions, it will also enhance interaction with family and friends.
- "Looking at Jewish Positive Psychology through the 3,000-year-old lens of Jewish thought". Heritage Florida Jewish News. October 31, 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
"How Happiness Thinks brings together modern research in positive psychology and ancient Jewish wisdom," explains Prof. Ben-Shahar, a renowned expert in the field who has authored five books and today teaches at IDC Herzliya, "This marriage between theology and science can bring about significant positive change in individuals and communities." The course explores to what degree surroundings and circumstances effect ones overall happiness, potential challenges to living a joyous life, and whether G-d cares if people are happy or not.
- "Chabad Lubavitch launching new educational series". Cape Coral, Florida. Cape Coral Daily Breeze. August 24, 2012.
The Jewish Learning Institute is the first international educational institution to present traditional Judaism in a professional, innovative, academically challenging yet accessible format. The JLI was created to address the need of Jews for in-depth Jewish knowledge. Authorities on each subject have organized the curriculum and teaching materials for each course. As the world's pre-eminent provider of adult Jewish learning with 350 chapters around the globe, JLI's mission is to make the wisdom of Jewish learning accessible to everyone.
- "Six Sessions Explore Ecclesiastical Law". Crown Heights Info.
West Palm Beach, FL — After a quick kosher lunch of eggplant spread, bagels and hummus, the room full of lawyers and judges moved on to a dessert they clearly relished: The law.
- The Rebbe's Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch, Sue Fishkoff, Random House, 2009, Chapter 2, Chabad Hits South Florida.
- Boca Allosw Park Display of Menorah; New Stance Staves Off Suit by Jewish Group, December 11, 1990, Sun Sentinel, Elaine A, Ellis.
- It's Beginning to Look...., Editorial, Miami Herald,December 13, 1990.
- Jewish Group Sues Boca Over Display Lubavitchers Want, South Florida Sun - Sentinel, December 8, 1990.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. Retrieved 2012-06-11.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-06. Retrieved 2012-06-11.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- Jewish Telegraph: "Study: Miami Jewry sees first increase since 1975" By Uriel Heilman October 13, 2014
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-06-02. Retrieved 2012-06-11.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-07-02. Retrieved 2012-06-11.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "The Jewish Community of Miami". The Museum of the Jewish People at Beit Hatfutsot.