Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Abe Wise instrumental in startup of 'The Heritage'


Dear Editor:

I have just heard of the passing of Abe Wise.  My heartfelt condolences go out to Tess and their kids.  Abe was a kind, gentle, mensh who will always be remembered as being the father of the Orlando JCC.  But he was also the reason Orlando residents today are able to read Heritage Florida Jewish News.  

It happened back in 1976.  I knew both Abe and Tess before I moved to Orlando. They both attended family functions in Youngstown, Ohio, where Tess had relatives. That’s where I first met Abe. When I moved to Orlando in 1973 I went looking for some Jewish activities, primarily for my mother-in-law, Esther Regenstreich, who had just moved from Youngstown to be near her daughter, Dorothy Kresner. After two or three days, I looked up Abe and Tess and asked, “Isn’t there a Jewish Center in Orlando?”

“You should have asked me when you first got here,” Abe answered. “Tess and I are heading a group that is just starting to build one.”   At that time the pool was under construction and there was an old bungalow on the property for a youth activities.

It was the summer of 1976 when I decided to look into the possibilities of publishing a Jewish newspaper in Orlando.  I went to see my friend Abe and his brother, Zelig, for their advice. “Where are you going to find the Jews?” they asked. “From the JCC and the Federation,” I replied.  Abe told me that a Miami publisher also wanted to publish in Orlando, and wanted the same mailing list. But they told me they would try to help.  

And help they did.  At the next Federation meeting, both Abe and Tess vouched for me, saying they knew my family background well and felt assured that I would do the community well.  I agreed to share the names of new subscribers with the JCC and the Federation. As the paper became more popular, both of our mailing lists increased and an era of mutual cooperation began.  

I cherish the friendship both myself and the Heritage have had with the Wises. Both Abe and Tess are true pioneers of Yiddishkeit and Jewish heritage in Orlando. We will all miss both Abe and Zelig. Their contributions to Jewish Orlando are enormous: the JCC, Federation, day school and Holocaust Center, are just some of the permanent imprints they have left.

Please give them all the kuvit they deserve. My best wishes go out to the family, especially Tess, whom I have loved and respected these many years.

Gene Starn, 

Founding editor of Heritage


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