Champions of local Jewish History


Southwest Florida Jewish Pioneers

Documentary Film Series by Jewish Historical Society of Southwest Florida

The series is an original production of The Society, showcasing some of the regions prominent Jewish residents who bear witness to the establishment of Jewish Communities in Charlotte, Collier, Hendry, Lee and South Manatee Counties of Florida, commonly referred to as Southwest Florida. As in the Oral/Visual Histories project, eyewitnesses share memories, stories, anecdotal accounts and visual images of many early Jewish residents of the region.

Film One: Helen Weinfeld, Naples First Jewish Historian, release date 2014.

Brief Summary: Helen and her husband Joe Weinfield moved to Naples from Philadelphia in the late sixties. Joe, an attorney, continued practicing in Florida. In the early 1970’s he represented a Jewish client who was successful in changing the restrictive bylaws of Port Royal Club, which was denying membership to Jews, blacks and Catholics.

Film Two: Gloria and Bill Lipman, 2 of the 6L’s, release date 2015.

Brief Summary: The Lipman family, originally from New York City, had a successful produce business on the East Coast of Florida, before relocating to the Southwest in late 1940s early 1950s. They established Six L’s and Lipman Produce, employed hundreds of local laborers, and became known for their charitable support of many causes.

Film Three: Richard Segalman, The Man and His Art, release date 2016, Winner of 2016 TELLY Awards.

Brief Summary: Raised by his aunt and uncle, who owned the famous Anchor Bar on Tamiami Trail, Richard came to Collier County after his demobilization in 1950s. Inspired by the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico, he began to paint. His paintings originally sold for $5 at the bar, and are now in collections and museums everywhere, including The Metropolitan in his native NYC.

Film Four: Stuart Kaye, A Mensch for All Reasons, release date 2017.

Brief Summary: Originally from Atlanta, raised on the East Coast of Florida, University of Tennessee graduate, Stuart moved to Naples as a very young professional in the early 1980s. Over the course of the past decades, he developed real estate and made many new Floridians happy with his sensible family-minded communities. He also founded the conservative congregation in Collier County.

Film Five: The Labodas of Fort Myers, release date 2017.

Brief Summary: From Philadelphia, via Albuquerque, NM, the Labodas came to Fort Myers looking for a pioneering experience in 1965. Gerald was the very first Oral Surgeon between the Everglades and Sarasota. His mother with a friend started the local Hadassah Chapter. His wife, with the help of many in the Jewish community, started the Jewish Federation of Lee and Charlotte Counties.

Film Six: Murray’s Mile, estimated release date Dec 2017.

Rumor has it that Murray officiates the tightest board meetings in the region. Once upon a time Washington IRS employee, Murray’s retirement is one of the most active in the vicinity. He is known as the most powerful unelected official in the City of Naples.

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