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

By Marcia Jo Zerivitz LHD
Founding Executive Director Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU 

Florida Jewish History Month


January 15, 2021

January is Florida Jewish History Month, designated by the Florida Legislature in 2003. It is a time to teach and celebrate the contributions of Floridian Jews to the development of the Sunshine State. Since my seminal book, "Jews of Florida: Centuries of Stories," was released in January 2020, I am pleased that many organizations throughout the state and nation have invited me to present my PowerPoint book talk highlighting some stories with about 100 photographs selected from the 716 in the book. The audience meets contemporary Floridian Jews who contribute much to the quality of life of Floridians and beyond - names that are recognized globally - and pioneers who impacted history beginning 257 years ago and possibly in 16th century Florida. 

I used the word "antisemitism" 50 times in my book because that was the driving force that propelled Jews to move from place to place. Most people do not know that Jews could not live in Florida for 250 years after its discovery in 1513. Florida, begun in discrimination, has the nation's second largest number of hate groups. I wrote my book to help ensure Jewish continuity and combat antisemitism. 

Now, one year later, antisemitism has increased dramatically. These are uncertain, divisive times when ancient myths and tropes against Jews are prevalent and Jews are even blamed for the pandemic. The knowledge of the "ginormous" contributions in every area in the development and success of Florida provides information and tools to correct the misinformation about Jews that is on social media networks and the Internet. My book is one tool to use against this hatred.

Education is key and I provide facts. It is important for this information to be part of middle and high school curricula and I am proud that the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Department of Social Sciences wrote an Instructional Study Guide for my book that is available in all 67 counties. 

Marcia Jo Zerivitz can be reached at mzerivitz@me.com to schedule a book talk and get a copy of the Study Guide. Books can be purchased on the website of the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU.


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