Thursday, June 20, 2013





THE JEWISH FLORIDIAN, A BIT OF JEWISH AMERICAN HERITAGE
By Ann Rabinowitz
 



Earliest Available Issue of the Jewish Floridian Newspaper



One of the newspapers I remember reading regularly during my growing up years was the Jewish Floridian which was edited by pioneer publisher Fred K. Shochet. Filled with community news in South Florida and beyond, it filled a vital niche in the distribution of lifestyle information to a burgeoning Jewish population.

The newspaper is now available online at the University of Florida Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica site:  http://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00010090/01627/allvolumes2. The issues cover the period of 1928 – 1973.

The editor and publisher of the newspaper was Fred K. Shochet (1915-1995), the son of Louis and Ethel Shochet and grandson of Abraham S. and Ida Shochet who came from Russia to Baltimore, MD.  According to the US Census, his grandfather’s family was from Busk, Ukraine, and his grandmother’s family was from Kiev, Ukraine.

The earliest online available issue of the newspaper, October 19, 1928, is seen above and the main story on the front page was entitled “A Tense Moment” which documented the marriage of Claire Cohen, the daughter of Miami pioneers Isidore and Ida Cohen, to Mr. Sydney L. Weintraub.  Claire had the distinction of being in the first graduating class of the University of Miami and later became an active and prominent community member.





Cohen Family
From the State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory
 
http://floridamemory.com/items/show/135792

The wedding ceremony was witnessed by approximately 1,500 celebrants in the Beth David Synagogue and officiated by Rabbi Israel H. Weisfeld.  Afterwards, the reception was held at the Ballroom of the Biscayne Yacht Club.  The article followed with much fascinating details on the ceremony, the musical repertoire and the reception.  It was truly the social event of the year.
 
Apparently, the highlight occurred when one of the bridesmaids, Dora Rosenhouse, fainted into the arms of two of the ushers.  One can also find out what happened to fainting Dora in other issues of the newspaper and can learn that in 1939 she married Norman Robert Lyons, an attorney.

Another story, which appeared in the issue of November 15, 1929, was entitled “Couple Elope To Miami”.  It involved Tillie Yospin, the daughter of a prominent Paterson, NJ family (or, so it stated in the newspaper) and her longtime boyfriend Alex Glick.  The couple fearing the displeasure of their families at their wedding plans eloped to Miami and were married and settled there afterwards. 
As I was curious about the Yospin family, since part of my family is from Paterson, NJ, I found that after checking with Ancestry.com, Clair’s parents were Samuel and Katie Yospin of Elizabeth, NJ.  So, not all information is correct in a newspaper as we all know. 

It also appeared that Mr. Yospin was a painter according to the 1920 US Census.  If one searches for him on Google, one finds that there is a Samuel Yospin and Son, Inc., which is a Benjamin Moore paint store in Dunellen, NJ.
 
An article, in the March 28, 1930 issue of the Jewish Floridian, that had a decidedly international focus was one entitled “Jewish Immigrants At Last Released”.  This involved the last 30 transmigrants of an approximately 1,900, who were held in a British immigration Detention Camp in East Lee (sic), near Southampton, England. 


These transmigrants had been kept prisoner since 1924 when the American Quota Law (Immigration Act of 1924) was changed and the American government had refused them entry.  Later, these internees were released in response to the opening of the national origins quotas for the countries that would accept them.  The last transmigrant was said to be a deaf and dumb boy. 
This was the first time I had heard of this particular detention situation, although I knew of other British detentions during World Wars I and II which involved foreign Jews, amongst them some of my own family. 

I decided to research this topic further and learned the transmigrants were held at a place that was actually located in Eastleigh not East Lee as it was in the newspaper article. 

 
THE ATLANTIC PARK HOTEL, NEAR EASTLEIGH, ABOUT 1920
(Photo Copied by Derek Dine, From Hampshire Public Library, About 1975)

 

The camp was called the Atlantic Park Hostel Company and was originally the idea of the Cunard, White Star and Canadian Pacific Railroad Company.  It was founded as a temporary shelter for those transmigrants wishing to go to America and having to change ships to do so.  It was run by the superintendant of the hostel, Colonel R.D Barbor.  When the American law affecting the national origins quotas was changed, it was said that approximately 980 Ukrainian Jewish tansmigrants were stuck in the camp.
The American consul in Southampton, John Savage, wrote a report on the conditions of the camp which was published in the Public Health Reports (1896-1970)Vol. 39, No. 18 (May 2, 1924), pp. 929-932 detailing conditions there (more about his report is also found in the book by Kushner and Knox referred to below). 

In addition, the Jewish Telegraph Agency (March 28, 1928) wrote the following:
What has happened to the group of Jewish immigrants stranded in Eastleigh, England, since 1925 was described in the annual report of Otto Schiff, president of the Jews’ Shelter, presented to the annual meeting.
Four of the stranded immigrants died during last year at the Emigrants Hostel in Eastleigh, the report stated. Twenty-seven received visas and proceeded to the United States, being admitted within the quota. Two returned to Russia leaving 137 stranded in England.

The United States Consulate notified the shelter that several of this number would be able to proceed to the United States during the coming year.
One thousand and six proceeded to South Africa, 35 to Australia and 38 to South America, the president reported.

Further references to this camp are to be found in the:
• London Metropolitan Archives, Eastleigh transmigrants (Original number: ACC/3121/B/04/EA010) 1929.
• Refugees in an Age of Genocide: Global, National and Local Perspectives – Tony Kushner and Katherine Knox, Pages 76-103.  You can read about Eastleigh on the Google books link:  http://books.google.com/books?id=4iehSAirzqQC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

As a last note on this topic, one never knows what one will find when delving into these resources as I found when researching the Kushner/Knox book.  One of the families mentioned, who were interned in Eastleigh, was the Shleimowitz family from Pavlograd, Ukraine.  One of the daughters, Liza, who finally ended up in Cape Town, SA, was the mother of Cyril Orolowitz, a member of the Rokiskis SIG and whose father’s Lithuanian family I was familiar with.  Her story was a fascinating one which should be read to gain a real understanding of the tremendous stresses of the refugees during that era.
   
Returning to the plethora of stories in the Jewish Floridian; a further article that spoke about the interrelationships between families was one that featured the Rubin/Cohen families.  It appeared in the April 19, 1929 issue and was entitled “Family Romance Continued”.  Evidently, three brothers married three sisters. 
The family of Jacob and Rachel Rubin came to Florida from Baltimore, MD, and setup in the jewelry business with their three sons, Harry, Maurice or Morris, and Sol.  Harry married Lee Cohen, his brother Maurice or Morris married Ida Cohen and finally Sol married Esther Cohen which amounted to a great trifecta as they say in racing jargon.

Deaths featured prominently in the paper too, both those from the Miami area and those further afield.  One such in the May 3, 1929 issue entitled “Rabbi Wife Dies At Childbirth in Montreal” was about the sudden death in childbirth of Gertrude Rosen Simon, the wife of Rabbi Mordecai Harry Simon of the Young Israel Congregation of Montreal, Canada.  Formerly from Miami, Gertrude had married the rabbi the year before and moved to Montreal.  It stated that her baby, named after her and who survived, would be brought up by her parents in Miami.

Upon further sleuthing into this story, I found that the baby, Herbert Tobias Simon, grew up, went to Harvard Law School and became a well-known civil rights attorney.  In fact, he defended Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and other activists.  A child his mother would certainly have been proud of.
 
Tobias Simon
(Florida Bar Photo)

 


Many times, the articles in the paper dealt with events such as the one in the February 16, 1934 issue entitled “Gala Evening Planned at Beach” which related the liturgical performance of Cantor Rev. A. Kantor, of the Cleveland Jewish Center, who was on vacation in South Florida and had been persuaded to perform. 
 
An additional part of the program at the gala was the lecture by twenty-six year old Rabbi Pinchas Mordechai Teitz (1908-1995), a famous Yiddish orator from Riga, Latvia, who had been trained in the Lithuanian Yeshivas.  He was a political leader who was a former member of the Latvian Parliament and was the editor of the newspaper Unzer Shtime.  The Rabbi was scheduled to discuss his plan to promote a conference for world Orthodox youth movements in Palestine in 1935. 


Rabbi Pinchas Mordechai Teitz




Of further interest is that the Rabbi had arrived in America in 1933, according to his obituary, for a year-long lecture tour and managed to meet his “beshert”, Bessie Preil, the eldest daughter of Rabbi Elozor Meyer Preil of Elizabeth, NJ.  Rabbi Preil asked in his will that his rabbinical position be given to whoever married Bessie and was worthy and, so it was, that Rabbi Teitz filled the bill and served for over 60 years in Elizabeth, N.J., where he became prominent in Jewish educational affairs.

There are many other such stories which mention families, events, and data critical to family historians.  I have only briefly touched on those from the early years before World War II.  As the Miami/Miami Beach area was mainly a seasonal destination for “snow birds” (visitors from mainly northern American towns or from Canada), one can find one’s relatives mentioned as visitors from other places, especially those from the Metropolitan New York area and the mid-west as well as the major cities in Canada such as Montreal, Quebec, Toronto and Winnipeg.

In addition, one can check further in Ancestry.com, the Jewish Museum of Florida Mosaic database and the several books by Seth Bramson regarding South Florida Jews to corroborate and expand on what you find in the Jewish Floridian archive.

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