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

A writing project about Jewish history of Orlando


Many years ago, Gene Starn, former publisher, now editor emeritus of the Heritage Florida Jewish News, and Joe Wittenstein started gathering information for the beginnings of a book about the Jewish history of Orlando. Personal circumstances prevented either of them from going further than the idea, notes, sources and resources.

While going through his files and getting rid of “tons of junk,” Starn came across these notes. He doesn’t want to dispose of any of these notes and resources without knowing if any of it would still be useful to someone here who might be willing to take over the project.

He would like to see some good use made of the material by responsible people who have a definite purpose in furthering the importance of the Jewish influence on the dynamics of the Orlando area.

“I would be willing to help,” he said, “but at 91, I’m limited in travel and what I can still do.”

The project would involve research, organizing and writing. Research includes help from MOSAIC at the Florida Jewish Museum in Miami, interviewing people who recall the beginnings of various phases of Jewish Orlando (i.e., Disney World, religious life, the Federation and JCC and other agencies, Hadassah, ORT, B’nai B’rith, etc.)

“It is a huge undertaking just getting the material, photos and putting it in print,” Starn stated. “Joe and I had visions of an upscale, hard-cover coffee table edition, with a paperback, less expensive edition to follow. I have the beginnings, but it will take a lot of work to complete.”

If there is anyone who is interested in pursuing this project, contact Jeff Gaeser at jeff@orlandoheritage.com or call the Heritage at 407-834-8787.


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