About the newspaper
The Southern Jewish Weekly began publication in 1939, when editor Isadore Moscovitz (a University of Florida Journalism graduate) merged the Florida Jewish News and the Jewish Citizen to create a new newspaper that would be “an independent weekly serving American citizens of Jewish faith”. The Weekly considered itself the “oldest and most widely circulated Jewish publication in this territory”.
The paper was a member of Religious News Service, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the American Jewish Press Club, and the Independent Jewish Press Service. It was published in Jacksonville once a week, with every issue typically being 8-pages. On October 1, 1943, Mr. Moscovitz published an announcement noting a change in publication frequency due to WW2. The Weekly became the Southern Jewish Monthly, publishing a single issue every third Friday of the month. During this time, Isadore served in the war, leaving his wife, Mrs. Ethel “Teddy” Moscovitz, to manage the paper and serve as its editor in the interim. The paper continued as a monthly until January 1947 when Isadore returned to the States and resumed the paper’s weekly publication schedule.
The Southern Jewish Weekly was “opposed to communism, fascism, and Nazism and is dedicated to the ideals of American democracy”. During its early years, it reported on WW2 providing readers a unique perspective from the community most affected by the tragedies of the war while it was underway, including reports of the murders and atrocities endured by the Jewish community. The Weekly also reported on activities of Nazis and other hate groups like the Klu Klux Klan, denouncing their efforts and white supremacy.
Additionally, the Weekly served as a strong promoter of Jewish faith, including information about Jewish congregations from around the state. It published information to educate readers on Jewish holidays frequently including a mini calendar for readers to refer to, and coverage of local celebrations for Passover, Shavuot, Hanukah, and Rosh Hashanah.
The Weekly offered its readers news from across the state, with pages dedicated to specific cities such as Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, Sarasota, Miami, Gainesville, Pensacola, St. Augustine, and Lakeland. These full-page features offered notes on population and included a little fact about the city. For example, the December 17, 1954 issue highlighted Sarasota as the “Friendly Gulf Coast Resort City”. Similar pages providing advertisements for local businesses were published occasionally featuring other southeastern cities outside of Florida such as Charleston (South Carolina), Savannah (Georgia), and Mobile (Alabama).
Several recurring sections are also found in this newspaper. For example, the “Week in Review” edited by Milton Brown that typically provided a summary of major events that occurred internationally in the previous week. “Religious Remarkables “, another section, offered illustrated content that highlighted people, places, things, and events from various religions.
“Jews in Sports”, written by Morris Weiner, offered readers narratives related to sports with an emphasis on Jewish athletes, and “Social Notes and Club Activities” primarily chronicled events that occurred on a local level. This full-page feature was edited by Mrs. Moscovitz and typically covered religious happenings and other social-cultural events.
About the place of publication
Pensacola was home to the first known Jewish community in Florida in 1763 after the Treaty of Paris was signed. Once England acquired Florida, non-Catholics were allowed to freely settle in the state. However, discrimination and hate crimes against the Jewish population negatively affected the growth of the community, with less than 100 known Jews living in the region by 1845 when Florida became a state.
The Jewish community began to flourish in the late 1850s, as they began to establish organizations that would meet their educational, social, and health related needs. The Jacksonville Hebrew Cemetery was the first Jewish institution to be established in the state in 1857. By 1900 there were six established congregations across the state in Pensacola, Jacksonville, Key West, Ocala, and Tampa. The community continued to grow and by 1928 approximately 10,000 Jews lived in Florida, with approximately 10% of the community residing in Jacksonville. Today there are over 600,000 Jews living in Florida, making up 3% of the overall state’s population.
Visit Chronicling America to explore the pages of the Southern Jewish Weekly.
- Southern Jewish Weekly https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn78000090/
- Jewish Virtual Library – Virtual Jewish World: Florida, United States https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/florida-jewish-history?web=1&wdLOR=cEF9F5638-5D37-48E9-9438-4E0111DDFA30
- Jewish Virtual Library – Jewish Population in the United States by State https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jewish-population-in-the-united-states-by-state
- Florida Jewish Heritage Trail (Florida Heritage Publication) https://files.floridados.gov/media/32345/jewishheritagetrail.pdf