The Jewish Historical Society of Southwest Florida was formed in 2010, and since 2011 is actively collecting archival material, such as photographs, videos and written testimonies by and/or about early Southwest Florida Jewish residents for the purpose of creating a 21st century online collection.
Monthly articles are printed in the Federation Star publication of the Jewish Federation of Collier County and L’CHAYIM publication of the Jewish Federation of Lee and Charlotte Counties. Theses newspapers are available by mail to members of these Federations and online for everyone and some of them are groundbreaking.
Annual Florida Jewish History Month events are organized and are well attended every January. These events are publicized for everyone, and some of them are groundbreaking.
In January 2016, for example, the Society held its Annual Event at a Collier County Museums venue. It was the first time Collier County Museums honored Florida Jewish History Month since its designation in 2003.
In the summer of 2016, the Society hosted Israeli swimmers before they went to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Events were publicized in the local press and on radio and television. Four opportunities were provided to the general community to attend exhibition events.
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No. JHSSWF is as an 501(c)(3) organization. While it enjoys friendship, loyalty, geographic proximity and good relations with the Jewish Federation of Collier County (JFCC), JHSSWF is a regional, not specific-county organization. The founders are members of JFCC. Collier County was the last county to be settled by the Jews, therefore the Society’s activities that are focused on collecting eyewitness accounts are mostly in Collier County, where many of the first-generation residents are still residing. JHSSWF receives solicited and unsolicited donations, all of which are solely on developing and implementing the Society’s initiatives and programs, including Florida Jewish History Month Annual Celebration Event in January and others. (See last question on below.)
The organization is currently located at its founders’ place of business at 899 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Suite 116, Naples, rent-free. All physical records are kept at this location.
As the 21st century historical society, the vision of the founders was to create a Virtual Museum of Southwest Florida Jewish History. In 2016, with the assistance of a very small grant from the Collier County Community Foundation and individual gifts, the Virtual Museum was created. JHSSWF volunteers add pages and information whenever possible.
The JHSSWF has several initiatives and on-going programs it presently pursues and some more planned for the future.
Eyewitness testimonies – oral/visual testimonies are collected and safeguarded until such time the information contained within them can be made available in the Virtual Museum or for programs in written and/or visual formats. Status: Ongoing
The Virtual Museum of Southwest Florida Jewish History is an online collection of photos, videos, personal accounts and other material as needed for the initiative. Located at http://jewishhistorysouthwestflorida.org Status: online 24/7/365
“Southwest Florida Jewish Pioneers” is a series of educational documentary films made from eyewitness testimonies. Film #6 is currently in production. Status: Annual release and reruns, as announced.
JHSSWF film presentations and Local Jewish History Master Classes are free community-wide educational events. Status: Ongoing
Jewish Youth Group presentations – educating BBYO about local Jewish History – “Who is Who.” Status: Launched in summer 2017
Local education and/or PBS channel to air JHSSWF films. Status: In development for 2018-2019 school year
Southwest Florida Jewish History Roadshow. Status: In development for 2018. It will bring programs to schools in all SWFL counties
Information about the board of directors is available online.
The organization’s activities are moved forward almost entirely by the efforts of its volunteers. There are no employees and there are no immediate plans for hiring employees.
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