Eighth annual Florida Jewish History Month

Rabbi Merrill Shapiro, President of the St. Augustine Jewish Historical Society, invited Historic City News readers to attend when the organization celebrates the eighth annual Florida Jewish History Month.

The American Jewish community is comprised of over 850,000 people; sixteen percent of whom live in Florida. In October of 2003, Florida Governor Jeb Bush signed a historic bill into law designating January of each year as “Florida Jewish History Month”.

Marking the event this year will be a fifteen-minute traditional Havdallah service on Saturday evening, January 21st at 7:30 p.m. The service, that customarily concludes the Jewish Sabbath, will be held outdoors in the southwest park at the foot of the Bridge of Lions.

It might interest you to know that, although the largest number of Jews settled in Florida after World War II, Jews have actively participated in shaping the destiny of Florida since its inception. Research during the 1980’s began to unearth facts about the state’s early Jewish leaders — little of which was previously known.

One such fact is that David Levy-Yulee, a Jewish pioneer, studied law and practiced here in St. Augustine in the 1800’s. He is credited with bringing Florida into statehood in 1845 and served as Florida’s first United States senator. Levy-Yulee was the first person of Jewish ancestry to serve in the U.S. Congress.

“All are welcome to attend the event,” Shapiro told reporters. “There is no charge and no prior arrangements need be made.”

Shapiro suggests that you bring along a folding chair and allow time to find a good parking space for this event.

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