For immediate release | May 31, 2016

Explore over two centuries of Jewish heritage in Florida at ALA Annual Conference

CHICAGO – Join the Jewish Information Committee of the ALA Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT-JIC) and the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL) for an exploration of over two centuries of Jewish life in the Sunshine State during “Chronicle of a People: Over 250 Years of Florida Jewish History,” to be held from 1 - 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 26 at the Hyatt Orlando, Celebration 10 room.

During this session, guest speaker Marcia Jo Zerivitz, founding executive director of the Jewish Museum of Florida-Florida International University (FIU) will discuss her research into the rich history and compelling backstories of Jewish Floridians. Zerivitz dispels the popular notion of Jews arriving in Florida only after World War II, as she found evidence of the community dating as far back as 1763, including such notable personalities as David Levy Yulee, who saw Florida’s admission into the Union and served as the first Jewish member of the United States Senate, and through the present, where Florida is both the third overall most populous state and has the third highest Jewish population in the U.S.

Zerivitz has traveled 250,000 miles across Florida to conduct grassroots research and retrieve the state’s unknown Jewish history to create an archival collection and traveling exhibition that would eventually become the Jewish Museum of Florida (JMOF) in Miami Beach. She also initiated legislation for Florida Jewish History Month (January) and a Jewish American Heritage Month (May) to increase awareness of the contributions by Jews to the state and nation. She authored all of the Florida entries for the Encyclopædia Judaica, and her scholarship has been used in films, historical journals and books, including publications by Brandeis University Press; she has been published internationally. She has written two photo-documentaries for Arcadia Publishing, including "Jews of Greater Miami" (2009) and "Jews of Tampa" (2013).

This 90-minute program is free and open to all attendees of ALA Annual Conference. For more information, please visit

Founded in 1982, the Ethnic and Multicultural Information and Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) serves as a source of information for recommended ethnic and multilingual collections, services and programs.

The Jewish Information Committee (JIC) was inaugurated in the early 1970s as the Jewish Caucus by EMIERT founder David Cohen. Initially an independent caucus in ALA, by the 1990s, as the Jewish Librarians Committee, it became a part of EMIERT. The name was changed again in 1997 to be more inclusive and to be able to welcome all ethnicities, library workers in general, vendors, library trustees, authors, and friends. The JIC advocates for issues of Jewish concern within ALA and in libraries and promotes education by coordinating, sponsoring, and co-sponsoring programs on Jewish culture and history, Judaica librarianship, and other topics at ALA’s and other associations’ conferences and meetings. The JIC also participates in collaborative programs with other ethnic caucuses and ALA affiliates such as the Association of Jewish Libraries (AJL), REFORMA, and the American Theological Library Association (ATLA).

The Association of Jewish Libraries promotes Jewish literacy through enhancement of libraries and library resources and through leadership for the profession and practitioners of Judaica librarianship. The Association fosters access to information, learning, teaching and research relating to Jews, Judaism, the Jewish experience and Israel.


John L. Amundsen

Program Officer, Outreach and Communications

ALA Office for Literacy & Outreach Services

(312) 280-2140