Keys to the Collection

As is the case for all museums, our limited amount of gallery space prevents us from showing visitors everything in our collection, which includes more than 100,000 artifacts, documents, photographs and ephemera. Keys to the Collection provides the opportunity for a "behind the scenes look" at items in our collection, giving our audience from all over the world a chance to learn about some of of our museum's treasures.

Photo of Morris Segal’s taxicab fleet, c. 1930s.

Segal Safety Cab Segal Safety Cab Company: Morris “Pop” Segal started his taxi business in 1927 with a “fleet” of two cars – his 1926 Studebaker and 1924 Hupmobile. Thirty years later, he and his sons William, Stanley and Norton were the owners and operators of the Yellow Cab System in Greater Miami, with a stock of 300 cabs, 500 rent-a-cars and 100 limousines and rolling up more than 15 million miles a year. Born in Russia, Pop Segal immigrated to the U.S. in 1907 at age 16 and settled in Boston. He moved to Coral Gables in 1924, where got into the real estate “boom,” but when the market slumped, he moved to Miami Beach and embarked on his taxicab career, using his two family cars to transport people in Miami and the Gables. By 1929, he founded the Segal Safety Cab Company, one of the first taxi operations in the area and he later absorbed cab companies such as Radio, White Line, Red Top and Checker, and he created the Yellow Cab System. Morris “Pop” Segal passed away in 1973 at age 83, but his sons continued in the business, expanding to include subsidiaries of Greyhound, American Sightseeing Tours and American Bus Lines.

Photo of David Cohen, Sarasota, c. 1980s.

David Cohen David Cohen, Mayor of Sarasota: Did you know that the first Jewish mayor of Sarasota, David Cohen, was also the former concertmaster of the Florida West Coast Symphony? Cohen, born in Philadelphia in 1910, was considered a child prodigy and he started playing the violin at age 10, giving his first professional performance at the age of 12. Though he won a scholarship to the Curtis Institute of Music in 1929, there were few jobs available for professional musicians during the Depression, so he abandoned his dream of a music career and he went into business. He moved to Sarasota in 1948 and operated a candy and specialty shop. Cohen’s segue into politics began with his election as Sarasota City Commissioner in 1960, where he became a driving force behind the building of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall. He was elected Mayor of Sarasota in 1964 and became known as “Mr. Sarasota,” though he never gave up his love of the violin, playing every day of his life, until his death in 1989.

Rosengarten Fur Stole, Miami, c. late 1950s.

Rosengarten Fur Stole: What’s a fur stole doing in the collection? Isaac and Dora Rosengarten arrived in Miami in 1929 from Waterbury, CT. By 1933, they began refrigerated storage at SW 1st Street and were the exclusive fur storage for Burdines (a leading department store, now owned by Macy’s). That year, Ripley’s Believe It or Not had an entry “Can you believe there is a furrier in Miami, Florida!” But the snowbirds loved it!


In 1934, the Rosengarten’s moved the business to 118 SW Miami Avenue and expanded to making fur coats. When Isaac died in 1947, his son Henry took over the business until he died in 1976. There were several articles written about the fur storage business, noting the company’s exemplary customer service, storage standards and even the fact that the vaults were burglar and fireproof, protected by A.D.T. The Rosengarten fur pictured was owned by Jackie Traurig, whose husband Bob, is a grandson of Isaac and Dora.

Gamma Tau Sorority, Jacksonville, 1945.

Gamma Tau, Spring 1945Gamma Tau, Girls Together: In 1945, Gamma Tau was the only high school sorority that permitted Jewish girls in the city of Jacksonville, FL (Duval County Schools). Pictured Standing (L-R): Leona Sampson, Natalie Witten, Jackie Falis (donor), Helen Witten, Myrna Zoslow, Rita Drucker Pictured Seated (L-R): Sylvia Bolasky, Faye Torn, Claire Walker, Joan Bartley, Minna Seitner Photo was taken in Spring 1945. The photo was donated by Jacqueline Falis Wolfson.

World War II Counterfeit Note, Brevard County, c. 1943.

Alt textWorld War II Counterfeit Note: Operation Bernhard was the codename of a secret Nazi plan by the RSHA and the SS to destabilize the British economy by flooding the country with forged Bank of England £5, £10, £20, and £50 notes. The notes were produced by Jewish prisoners at Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp. It was the largest counterfeiting operation in history. While most of the notes never made it into general circulation, many were transferred from SS headquarters to a former hotel near Meran in South Tyrol, Northern Italy, from where they were laundered and used to pay for strategic imports and German secret agents operating in the Allied countries. By April 1945, the printing press had produced 8,965,080 banknotes with a total value of £134,610,810 - equivalent to $542,481,564.30 in 1945. The notes are considered among the most perfect counterfeits ever produced, being almost impossible to distinguish from the real currency. Many movies and novels have been made based on the true story. This note was donated by Florida collector Dr. Gary Weiss.

From the Collections of the Jewish Museum of Florida, originated by Marcia Jo Zerivitz, founding executive director.