The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU (JMOF-FIU) established in 1995, is the only museum dedicated to telling the story of more than 250 years of Florida Jewish history, arts and culture, with a growing collection of more than 100,000 items. It is located in the trendy SoFi area of South Beach at 301 Washington Avenue. The Museum is housed in two restored historic buildings that were once synagogues for Miami Beach's first Jewish congregation.
The original synagogue was built in 1929, and the second, built in 1936, was designed by Art Deco architect Henry Hohauser and features 80 stained-glass windows, a copper dome, and a marble bimah. The two buildings are joined together by the Bess Myerson Gallery, named after former Miss America, Bess Myerson.
While reflective of the Jewish experience in Florida, JMOF-FIU creates understanding of the shared immigrant experience in our multicultural society. The Museum's core exhibition, MOSAIC: Jewish Life in Florida 1763 to today,originated by Marcia Jo Zerivitz, began as a statewide grassroots collecting effort, which included gathering photographs, artifacts and oral histories from descendants of pioneer families, as well as the state's more recent arrivals. Mosaic traveled to 13 Florida cities from 1990-1994 and generated so much interest that by 1995, it evolved into the Jewish Museum of Florida.
JMOF became part of FIU in 2012, creating a historic partnership that leverages the resources of the Museum and FIU to ignite a new era of interdisciplinary education and research. Using the lens of the evolving immigration experience of Jews in Florida, JMOF-FIU serves as a forum to promote tolerance, further global understanding and create connections to Jewish culture, history, arts and contemporary civic life for diverse audiences. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, JMOF-FIU has achieved a standard of excellence in its methodology for research, collecting, conservation, archiving, storing and interpreting its holdings.
JMOF-FIU presents a vibrant schedule of thought-provoking exhibitions that change periodically, paired with a dynamic array of programming including: lectures, workshops, family activities, and presentations on topics of Jewish studies worldwide, with international scholars and presenters and local movers and shakers. Many of the programs are in collaboration with FIU departments including the Green School of International and Public Affairs, as well as various cultural and community organizations.
The Museum's extensive collection of artifacts, documents, photographs and oral histories focuses on the people who have shaped and continue to influence the development of our state, drawing crucial links between their contributions and the social, political, economic, cultural and religious aspects of Jewish life in Florida and the relationship of Jews to the dominant non-Jewish population. As such, the collection offers a wealth of opportunity for research by students, scholars, historians and journalists. JMOF-FIU is also an extended classroom for thousands of Miami-Dade County Public School students, inspiring them to explore their own cultural heritage and those of all ethnic groups in our multicultural society.
To advance the understanding and appreciation of Jewish culture, preserve and share the history and stories of Jewish life in Florida, and contribute to FIU’s presence as a major international university.