|Henry Ford Often Complained to Edison that Fort Myers was "lousy with Jew"|
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, Peru), 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 Southeast Florida.
In 1836, Abraham C. Myers, a West Point graduate and a South Floridian Jew, serves as Army Quartermaster for the Seminole Wars, 1835-1842. Fort Myers, Florida is named to honor him.\
|FLORIDA JEWISH TIMELINE|
|1500s||Jews as conversos believed to be among the early settlers of St. Augustine.|
|1763||England acquires Florida in the Treaty of Paris. Joseph D. Palacios, Alexander Solomons and Samuel Israel leave New Orleans and were the first Jews to settle in Florida in Pensacola in 1763.|
|1769||Isaac Monsanto expelled from New Orleans and settles in Pensacola.|
|1820||Moses Elias Levy begins purchase of 100,000 acres in what are now St. Johns, Volusia and Alachua Counties. In 1822 he builds “Pilgrimage Plantation,” a refuge for Jews that lasted until 1835. He publishes a plan to end slavery and also serves as Florida’s first Education Commissioner.|
|1821||Samuel Myers settles in Pensacola, becomes alderman and an officer in the military. In 1822, he and his wife, Louisa, have Virginia, the first-known Jewish child born in Florida.|
|1836||Abraham C. Myers, a West Point graduate, serves as Army Quartermaster for the Seminole Indian Wars, 1835-1842. Ft. Myers is named to honor him.|
|1837||Raphael Jacob Moses opens a store in Tallahassee. He later becomes a lawyer and practices in Apalachicola.|
|1841||David Levy Yulee, the son of Moses Elias Levy, helps to write Florida’s Constitution (1841). He is elected Florida’s first U.S. Senator, when Florida becomes the 27th state (1845) and is the first Jew to serve in the U.S. Senate (1845-1851; 1855-1861). He organizes the Florida Railroad Company (1853). The town of Yulee (Nassau County) and Levy County honor the family.|
|1850||Phillip P. Dzialynski arrives in Jacksonville. This is the longest-known continuing Jewish family in Florida.|
|1857||The first Jewish cemetery in Florida is established in Jacksonville. The first-known Jewish boy is born in Florida, George Dzialynski.|
|1865||Floridian Jews serve on both sides in the Civil War. Judah P. Benjamin from Louisiana serves as Attorney General, Secretary of State and Secretary of War for the Confederacy (1861-1865). At the end of the Civil War, he escapes from the Union Army by hiding in the Gamble mansion (Manatee County).|
|1876||Temple Beth El (Pensacola), the oldest congregation in the State, is founded.|
|1879||Henry Brash elected Mayor of Marianna, the first-known of more than 170 Jewish mayors in Florida.|
|1880s||Cousins Morris Dzialynski of Jacksonville and Herman Glogowski of Tampa serve as mayors of their cities.|
|1882||The Okeechobee Land and Development Company adopts a plan to save Jews in Russia. The Company starts an agricultural colony above the Everglades. Temple Ahavath Chesed founded in Jacksonville with Morris Dzialynski as president.|
|1887||Congregation B’nai Zion founded in Key West with Morris Zion as president.|
|1890||Dr. Louis Oppenheimer of Bartow establishes the local school system.|
|1892||Jews settle in West Palm Beach.|
|1895||Key West Jews raise funds for Cuban revolutionaries fighting for independence from Spain.|
|1896||The first permanent Jewish settlers arrive in the Miami area.|
|1900||There are six Jewish congregations in Florida.|
|1907||First bris in Miami-Dade County (Eddie Cohen).|
|1910||First Jew settles in Broward County (Louis Brown).|
|1913||B’nai Zion is first congregation in Miami-Dade County; later become Beth David.|
|1933||David Sholtz of Daytona Beach begins his term as Governor of Florida (1933-1936).|
|1940s||Admiral Ellis N. Zacharias of Jacksonville, Chief of Naval Intelligence, breaks the|
Japanese code. This leads to the U.S. victory in the Pacific.
|1943||Mitchell Wolfson serves as Mayor of Miami Beach, the first of 15 Jewish mayors in that city.|
|1953||Abe Aronovitz serves as Mayor of Miami, the only Jew to serve in this office.|
|1959||Approximately 10,000 Cuban Jews seek freedom in South Florida.|
|1968||Marshall Warren Nirenberg of Orlando and a graduate of the University of Florida awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology for deciphering the genetic code.|
|1974||Richard Stone begins his term as a U.S. Senator (1974-1980), the second Florida Jew to hold this office.|
|1975||Arthur England begins his term as Justice on Florida’s Supreme Court (1975-1981). He|
becomes Chief Justice in 1978.
|1981||Raymond Ehrlich begins his term on Florida’s Supreme Court (1981-1991). He|
becomes Chief Justice in 1988. More than 250 Jews have served as judges in Florida.
|1984||MOSAIC project created, which evolves into the Jewish Museum of Florida.|
|1987||Gerald Kogan begins his term as Justice on Florida’s Supreme Court (1987-1998). He becomes Chief Justice in 1996.|
|1990||“MOSAIC: Jewish Life in Florida,” a traveling exhibit, begins its tour to 13 cities.|
Gwen Margolis becomes the nation’s first female Florida Senate President.
|1995||Jewish Museum of Florida opens.|
|1997||Barbara Pariente becomes the second woman appointed to the Florida Supreme Court. In 2004 she becomes Chief Justice.|
|2003||Governor Jeb Bush signs a Bill designating each January as Florida Jewish History Month.|
|2004||Debbie Wasserman Schultz elected to U.S. Congress, the first Jewish woman to represent Florida.|
|2006||President George Bush signs a Proclamation designating each May as Jewish American Heritage Month to honor contributions by Jewish Americans to our Nation. The Jewish Museum of Florida was the birthplace of this legislation, with the effort led by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.|
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.
Jewish religious observance in South Florida
There are nearly 189 synagogues and congregations built to serve over 500,000 Jews in South Florida.
There are approximately 77 Orthodox synagogues and congregations in South Florida.
There are approximately 60 Conservative synagogues and congregations in South Florida. Notable synagogues include The Cuban Hebrew Congregation.
There are approximately 40 Reform synagogues and congregations in South Florida. Notable synagogues include Congregation Ahavath Chesed and Temple Beth-El (Pensacola, 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 and its affiliated Adult Educational organization The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute are active in 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 County, Florida: approximately 25,000 Jews live in Tampa Bay County.
- 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
- Founder of Wometco Theatres and former Miami Beach mayor Mitchell Wolfson