Author Topic: Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave  (Read 10478 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave
« on: July 28, 2009, 05:48:19 AM »
Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave



Forced to live in tight communities in Europe, early Jewish immigrants established a similar tight knit community in LaVilla between the 1880s and 1920s.


Full Article
http://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2009-jul-lost-jacksonville-downtowns-jewish-enclave

downtownparks

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Re: Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2009, 07:29:51 AM »
Nice work Ennis. It really is remarkable the amount of history Jacksonville has lost. Every time I see one of these I love the city a little less....

Lucasjj

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Re: Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave
« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2009, 07:57:26 AM »
"They were chartered in 1905 and in 1909, dedicated their Synagogue at Duval & Jefferson.  This structure was replaced by Springfield's, Jacksonville Jewish Center, in 1927.  It was demolished in 1975."

Is this saything that the Synagogue in that photo on the left was built in 1909 and then replaced in 1927? That seems like a very short life span for such a structure.

thelakelander

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Re: Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave
« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2009, 08:07:10 AM »
Yes, the Synagogue was built in 1909 and replaced by the Jacksonville Jewish Center in 1927.  However, the building lasted until the 1970s.

Nice work Ennis. It really is remarkable the amount of history Jacksonville has lost. Every time I see one of these I love the city a little less....

Thanks, DTP.  Stay tuned, there's more coming down the pipeline.  The more and more we dig, the more impressive our history becomes.  Why we don't rally around, preserve, support and market it, is lost on me. 
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

fsujax

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Re: Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave
« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2009, 08:08:38 AM »
Wormans is a great place to meet and eat! wish the article would have said more about Wormans and their history in Jacksonville.

Lucasjj

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Re: Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2009, 08:38:53 AM »
Yes, the Synagogue was built in 1909 and replaced by the Jacksonville Jewish Center in 1927.  However, the building lasted until the 1970s.

Thanks. That is what I was trying to understand, whether the use of building was changed in 1927 or a different building was put there all together. Do you have any pictures or descriptions of the condition of the building when it was leveled. From the look of the place it seems like it could have lasted longer than 70 years. I am just curious whether is was run down and it was decided the "best" thing to do was tear it down, or if it was leveled for some future promised idea that never came to light.

thelakelander

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Re: Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave
« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2009, 08:49:36 AM »
At this point I don't know, but I can find out.  My guess is that it may have been aged but still structurally sound.  In the later half of the 20th century this community got demolition happy.  Especially in LaVilla.
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali

Jason

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Re: Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave
« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2009, 09:35:19 AM »
Fantastic article once again.  I learn something new every day from this site.

stjr

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Re: Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave
« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2009, 10:43:47 AM »
Ennis, I believe there is a lot more to this story.  Morris A. Dzialynski was Jacksonville's first and only Jewish mayor in the late 1800's.  The first Jewish cemetery was established here in 1857.  Per below, this history of the oldest synagogue in Jax, Congregation Ahavath Chesed, now on San Jose just north of Baymeadows, shows activity to at least 1867.  For those unfamiliar, there are 3 primary "branches" of American Jewry: Reform, Conservative, and Orthodox.  All are represented in Jax.  The oldest synagogues are Ahavath Chesed which is Reform, and The Jewish Center which is Conservative.





Above and below from:  http://www.thetemplejacksonville.org/aboutus/history/

Quote
In 1867 the “Israelites of Jacksonville” met to form a Jewish congregation.  Even though they failed to seek a charter, they set a pattern of worship that has continued to this day.

The first Jacksonville City Directory, published in 1870, lists 23 recognizable Jewish names, and by 1880 there were 130 Jews living in Jacksonville.

Congregation Ahavath Chesed was formally chartered in 1882, with Rabbi Marx Moses officiating at the dedication of the synagogue on September 8th of that year.

The architectural style of the Orthodox synagogue reflected the European origins of the membership, most of who came from Prussiaand Germany.  It remained Orthodox until the mid 1890’s when the congregation adopted the Reform Movement. 

Tragedy struck in 1901: the great fire of Jacksonvilledestroyed all of the downtown area, including our beloved synagogue.  It was rebuilt in the same style, but soon became too small for our growing congregation, and plans were drawn for a new house of worship.

  In 1910 the move to Laura and Ashley Streets was made with Rabbi Pizer Jacobs delivering the dedication address.   We had several rabbis until Rabbi Israel Kaplan came in 1916.  He was responsible for the formation of the Interfaith Thanksgiving Services first held in 1917 with 3 other religious congregations participating.  We now have over 30 houses of worship taking part.     

  We continued to grow and in 1927, we purchased a beautiful residence in Riverside..  It is a Henry Klutho design and was built in 1907.

The Temple purchased this building in 1927 and served as our religious community center and all activities formerly held in the Laura and Ashley street Vestry rooms moved to Riverside.  Sisterhood, Brother, Hunior Congregation, TempleMen's Club, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts met there.

It served us well until 1940 when a fire destroyed this beautiful building. All records of the Congregation, including boy scouts, brotherhood, sisterhood and TIR were also destroyed.

On the retirement of Rabbi Kaplan in 1946, Rabbi Sidney M. Lefkowitz became our spiritual leader.  Plans to build a new house of worship on the grounds of the Temple Home became a reality.  The location was ideal and in 1950 we dedicated a new temple for our Congregation.  In the mid 1960’s, enough land was purchased on San Jose Boulevard to build a large synagogue with room for growth. 

 In 1979 we dedicated our new facility.  In 1986, we added our current Chapel and more classrooms, and most recently, we completely remodeled the building to house a new Education Wing, a state-of-the-art kitchen, a larger Library and the Archives Display room and storage. 

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Congregation_Ahavath_Chesed_(Jacksonville,_Florida) :

Quote
Although Jews were already living in Florida in the late 1700s, Jacksonville probably was the first Jewish community organized in Florida. The Jacksonville Hebrew Cemetery was established in 1857. It is the oldest Jewish communal institution in Florida of which a record has been found.[1]

In 1867 the “Israelites of Jacksonville” formed a congregation.[2] For a number of years an organization called the Hebrew Benevolent Society also existed. [3] Congregation Ahavath Chesed was organized in 1880.[4] This congregation, led by Jacksonville's Jewish Mayor, Morris A. Dzialynski, received a legal charter in 1882.[3] The congregation hired Rabbi Marx Moses, and dedicated, on Sept. 8, 1882, a synagogue building.[2]
« Last Edit: July 28, 2009, 11:10:58 AM by stjr »
Hey!  Whatever happened to just plain ol' COMMON SENSE!!

tufsu1

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Re: Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave
« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2009, 10:48:16 AM »
nice post stjr....I was about to do that....you beat me to it

Lunican

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Re: Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2009, 10:48:34 AM »
Great article. It's hard to believe how many buildings have been flattened for no real purpose.

heights unknown

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Re: Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2009, 10:55:50 AM »
Wow; Jacksonville's Jewish heritage is immense.  And remember, after leaving LaVilla, which was taken over by African Americans, the Jews dispersed throughout Jacksonville (those that remained in Jax), and who knows, there maybe whites and/or blacks who intermarried with some of those Jews who have a mixed Jewish DNA in with their natural ethnicity.

I remember when we lived in LaVilla, at the age of 11 I had a girlfriend who was Jewish, everyone knew her parents were Jews.  They ran a confectionary/bar on Davis Street a block or two from our house.  Ah memories.

So, all of you whites of scottish, german, irish and other white ethnic descent in Jacksonville, and African Americans who married some Jewish girls, you are all mixed up like planters dry roasted nuts with Jewish blood.

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stjr

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Re: Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2009, 11:06:22 AM »
One more Wikepedia tidbit:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oldest_synagogues_in_the_United_States#Florida :

Quote
Ahavath Chesed in Jacksonville, and Temple Beth-El in Pensacola each has claims to being the oldest Jewish congregation in Florida. The Jacksonville congregation was meeting for prayer by 1867, but appears to have incorporated later than Pensacola which dedicated its first building in 1876, well before Jacksonville's 1882 building.
Hey!  Whatever happened to just plain ol' COMMON SENSE!!

copperfiend

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Re: Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2009, 11:30:59 AM »
Great article. It's hard to believe how many buildings have been flattened for no real purpose.

It is painful.

lindab

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Re: Lost Jacksonville: Downtown's Jewish Enclave
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2009, 11:49:09 AM »
Great article. It's hard to believe how many buildings have been flattened for no real purpose.

It is painful.

Yes, Painful is the right word. We should do something about it. How about a Day of Remembrance in Hemming Plaza in front of City Hall with photos of what was and is now lost or destroyed? I'm willing to help out.