Founding Executive Director
Marcia Jo Zerivitz
Marcia Jo Zerivitz, Founding Executive Director of the Jewish Museum of Florida has been a leader in the American and Floridian Jewish communities for 50 years with a specific focus on museums and Florida Jewish history for the past 26 years. Marcia Jo retired from JMOF on October 1, 2011.
Beginning in 1985, Marcia traveled around Florida to research and retrieve the state’s unknown Jewish history, created a collection and a storyline of Jewish life in Florida and helped develop the MOSAIC exhibit that traveled to thirteen cities (1990-1994).
In 1995, under her direction, this project evolved into the Jewish Museum of Florida, now housed in two restored former synagogues, on the National Register of Historic Places. JMOF collects, preserves and interprets 250 years of the Jewish experience in Florida in the context of American and world Jewish history, art and culture and also to reflect the immigration experience of all Americans. In 16 years, Marcia presented more than 60 exhibits (>50% JMOF originals, researched and written with her team) with educational and cultural programs, and led the Museum to be accredited and re-accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), an honor earned by less than 5% of the nation’s museums. She currently serves as a peer reviewer for AAM.
In 2009, as part of the Museum’s strategic plan, Marcia began a search for an academic partner to help ensure the long-term impact and outreach of the mission of the JMOF. In 2012, the partnership with Florida International University was finalized, resulting in JMOF-FIU.
Marcia frequently lectures on topics related to discrimination and Florida Jewish history, which she originally collected, compiled and documented, and consults and conducts workshops nationally for non-profits, including museums, on strategic planning, collections, exhibitions, non-profit governance and management, adaptive reuse of historic structures and fundraising.
She initiated the legislation for both a 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. In May 2010, 2011 and 2012, Marcia was invited to President Barack Obama’s White House receptions for Jewish American Heritage Month (JAHM). On behalf of the Board of JMOF, she loaned the original 2006 Presidential Proclamation for JAHM to Jewish astronaut Dr. Garrett Reisman to take on the Atlantis Space Shuttle mission to the International Space Station in May 2010 and in August 2010, Reisman returned the document to her. Marcia serves on the Board for Jewish American Heritage Month.
Marcia wrote (with co-author) Florida Jewish Heritage Trail, published by Florida Dept. of State (250 sites in 44 cities with Jewish historical significance). Marcia authored all of the Florida entries for the Encyclopedia Judaica and her scholarship has been used in films and books, including by Brandeis University Press; she has been published internationally. In 2009, her photodocumentary book, Jews of Greater Miami, was released.
Marcia was selected for the first United Jewish Appeal Women’s Leadership Cabinet (1974). She has led many missions to Israel and is a former leader for Israel Bonds, AIPAC, ORT, Hadassah, congregations and Jewish Federation where she served both as president (1978-80) of the Greater Orlando Jewish Federation and as a professional (1980-84).
Both Marcia and the Museum have received many awards. She resides on St. Pete Beach, FL with her husband, Elliott; they enjoy 7 grandchildren.