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Centennial Celebration: 100 Years of our Fort Lauderdale Jewish Community

Temple Emanuel - the original synagogue in 1937 - the year it opened
The Jewish Federation of Broward County celebrated the Centennial of the Ft. Lauderdale Jewish Community by identifying nearly 100 Jewish Pioneer Families – those families who had been in Ft. Lauderdale 50 years or more.  Many families provided stories of their memories growing up Jewish in Ft. Lauderdale, and all families were given a Certificate of Appreciation for their family’s strength, vision and determination to build a Jewish community in Ft. Lauderdale. 

Jews have been in South Florida at least since clothing merchant Isidor Cohen arrived from New York in February 1896 — two months before Flagler's railroad. But in Broward, the history is considered to begin in 1910, per Marcia Jo Zerivitz, the former executive director of the Jewish Museum of Florida in Miami Beach.  Broward — with about 185,000 Jewish people according to 2008 counts — is now home to the second largest Jewish community in Florida, after Palm Beach County.

The First Confirmation Class of Temple Emanuel in 1939
The beginnings were difficult. "The KKK was parading in the 20s and some neighborhoods and hotels restricted against Jews," she said.  "Gentile clientele only" or "select clientele" were often-seen signs, the latter meaning no blacks, no Jews.  She said pioneer families have a "sense of pride that hey, we were here since the beginning," she said.  "They stuck it out," Zerivitz said, saying that Jewish families created niches for themselves in retail, real estate and eventually politics and philanthropy. "Achievements trump discrimination."

Read the amazing memories of many of our Jewish Pioneer Families.

 Names of Pioneer Families

Elliott Barnett
Dora Beck
Irving Beck
George & Cookie Berman
Jacob & Hannah Besner
Edward & Mary Blumberg
David & Estelle Blume
Richard Blume
Ira & Gloria Boris
Jacob & Peggy Brodzki
Ludwik & Paola Brodzki
Al & Gail Capp
Maynard & Gertrude Cherof
Alvin & Elfriede Colin
David & Jean Colker
Sophy Curson
Dan & Gladys Danart
Michael David
Max & Shirley Diamond
Paul & Julie Eli
Lester Epstein
Matthew & Leah Epstein
Paul & Mary Epstein
Merwin & Beverly Erenbaum
Leonard Farber
Irwin & Harriette Fine
Abraham & Shirley Fischler
Louis & Bess Freeman
Saul & Adele Geronemous
Sylvan & Ruth Goldin
Robert Goldner & Pearl Curson Goldner
Stanley & Pearl Goodman
Nathaniel & Thelma Gora
Nathan & Ella Greenstein
Arnold & Barbara Grevior
Alvin & Evelyn Gross
Ralph & Ruth Gross
Ira & Helen Hirschfeld
Abe & Lena Hirshman
Moe & Goldie Hirshman
Henry & Lillian Kardonsky
Herman & Roz Karneol
Moe Katz
Mack & Sadye Katz
Albert & Esther Kaufman
Irving & Paula Kelmanson
Irving (Doc) & Rita Lebow
Max Lehrman & Rose Seitlin Lehrman
Oscar & Anna Levin
Harry & Estelle Levy
Richard & Marie Levy
Sol & Rubie Levy
Gil & Beatrice Mallinger
Arnold & Phyllis Mann
Abe & Ida Markowitz
Don & Judy McClosky
Don & Jo Ann Medalie
Abe & Pearl Milch
Harold & Ruth Miller
Morey & Edith Morrison
Lew & Matilda Nankin
Moe & Ruth Nankin
Abe & Mollie Newman
Sydney & Hannah Norman
Beryl & Rosemond Curson Price
Charles & Rose Reiss
Dan & Mary Richter
Archie & Molly Robbins
Julius & Sylvia Rosenthal
Mike & Myrna Rubin
Simon & Lisa Ruden
Albert & Lacy Shapira
Carl & Sandra Schuster
Joseph & Frieda Schuster
Joseph & Betty Schagrin
Leo & Gertrude Schagrin
Marvin & Rhona Schulman
Robert Shepard
Al & Julie Siegel
Paul & Reva Silverman
Don & Elaine Singer
Jerry & Louise Soowal
I. A. (Pop) Sterling
Arthur & Shirley Stone
Abe & Lillian Tarler
Joseph & Edna Tarnove
Isadore & Sadie Torn
Robert & Marlene Uchin
Lee & Henrie Uden
Alfred & Helen Ullian
David Wellens
Irving & Miriam Wellens
Irv & Liz Weiser
Nancy Morrison Weiser
Jack & Anna Waskow
Martin & Sylvia Yohalem
Steve & Barbara Ziegler