Approximately 664,000 Jewish people reside in South Florida, which includes Palm Beach (225,000 Jewish people), Broward County (305,000 Jewish people) and Miami-Dade County (134,000 yearround Jewish residents). The population fluctuates as snow birds” come down for the winter. They begin arriving after Thanksgiving and the region hits the height of activity in March. After Easter most winter residents leave to avoid temperatures that will exceed 95 degrees.
Our branch has been located in the greater Fort Lauderdale area (which makes up most of Broward County) since 1991.
South Florida offers tremendous evangelistic opportunities. It is the largest North American Jewish center outside of New York. It also has the largest Spanish-speaking Jewish community outside of Latin America, with 3,000-5,000 Spanish-speaking Jewish people in Miami alone. And Fort Lauderdale is a spring break destination for college students across the eastern United States.
The South Florida branch is praying toward one day opening outposts in West Palm Beach and Miami Beach. They also are praying about developing a Spanish ministry that would not only reach out to Spanishspeaking Jewish people in their own language, but would enable us to bring presentations to Spanish churches, encouraging believers to reach out to their Jewish friends and neighbors.
Meet our Missionary Family
STAN AND HOLLY MEYER
Stan, our South Florida director, is a native Texan, born and raised in San Antonio. His mother, a Jewish believer in Jesus, led him to faith when he was nine, having come to faith herself the year before. Stan graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics, and came on staff with Jews for Jesus in 1985. He now also holds an M.A. in intercultural studies with a concentration in Jewish studies from Fuller Seminary. Stan has served in New York, Chicago, Toronto and Los Angeles. He and Holly traveled for a year and a half with Jews for Jesus’ mobile evangelistic Jewish gospel group, The Liberated Wailing Wall. Holly sings and Stan plays the piano. Now they are both part of the Jews for Jesus Singers of South Florida.
Holly was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the daughter of a Navy flight instructor. Though Holly is not Jewish, most of her friends in high school were. So when at age 16 she came to faith in Jesus, it was on her heart to reach Jewish people with the gospel. She studied at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey, traveled one summer with Chosen People Ministry’s STEP program, and graduated from Moody Bible Institute with a degree in Jewish and modern Israel studies. Holly and Stan married in Chicago, and Holly promptly came on staff in 1990. She continues to serve as a part-time missionary.
GREG AND DENISE SAVITT
Greg was raised in a Conservative Jewish home. At age 16 he attended a church service and, to his surprise, experienced a sense of peace and joy he had never known before. He dismissed his feelings as illogical, but years later at another church service, the same feelings rekindled. Eager to understand what was happening, Greg began attending church regularly. He was drawn to the gospel, but could not come to terms with the idea that a Jewish person might actually believe in Jesus. Then one evening he attended a presentation by The Liberated Wailing Wall and understood there is nothing more Jewish than believing in the promised Messiah of Israel. He has been walking with Jesus ever since. In 1997 Greg and Denise left Chicago—where he was employed as a certified public accountant—to join our staff. (Greg is a graduate of the University of Illinois with a B.S. in accounting.) They moved to New York City where Greg trained as a missionary. He, Denise and three of their four children (Dylan, Judah and Reuben) have been in South Florida for three years. Their youngest, Gabrielle, is a “Florida branch baby.”
Denise is a graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University with a degree in drama. Formerly a graphic artist, she is now a full-time mom whose good taste and creativity add much to our missionary community.
HYAM AND DIANE COHEN
Hyam is Jewish and his wife Diane is a Gentile. They both love Yeshua (Jesus) and have a burden for the Jewish people to know Him, too. The Cohens did volunteer work with Jews for Jesus for several years while Hyam operated a small grocery store and Diane was employed in nursing. In 1983 they left their jobs to travel throughout the southeastern United States, representing Jews for Jesus in churches, handing out broadsides (gospel tracts) on city streets and meeting with people who wanted to know more about Jesus. In 1988 they moved to San Francisco where Hyam joined our headquarters staff, heading up our Purple Pomegranate Productions for a time, while Diane worked with the San Francisco branch as a part-time missionary.
After serving in the San Francisco Bay Area for 11 years, the Cohens moved to South Florida where Hyam helped out as office manager before retiring in January of 2002. He now volunteers with the branch, having come full circle. Diane continues to serve as a part-time missionary, particularly with elderly and homebound Jewish women.
Chad “found Jesus in the Yellow Pages.” Raised in a Conservative Jewish home, Chad became a bar mitzvah at age 13. After straying from his Jewish upbringing for many years, Chad decided to reestablish contact with his Jewish roots. He opened the phone book to find a synagogue. He saw an ad that said, “Messianic Congregation” and “Proclaiming Yeshua as the Jewish Messiah.” Because the congregation was conveniently located, Chad attended and was shocked to meet Jewish people who actually believed Jesus was the Messiah. Through the story of their changed lives and a study of messianic prophecy, Chad found the case for Jesus convincing and received Him as Messiah and Savior.
Chad is a graduate of Vander Cook College of Music with a Bachelor of Music Education degree. He began his ministry with Jews for Jesus in August of 1999 in New York City. He then traveled as part of The Liberated Wailing Wall, and now leads the local Jews for Jesus Singers in South Florida. He also spearheads our campus ministry as well as our Spring Break Outreach in Daytona Beach.
Damien is our Itinerary Coordinator. He was born in Jamaica, and serves as the director of worship at his church, Faith Center. Damien and his wife Lisa see themselves as ministers of the gospel whether it be at Jews for Jesus, their church, or whatever the Lord calls them to do. They have a beautiful daughter, Cara. Damien is truly an answer to prayer as the branch was without an itinerary coordinator for quite a while. He is helping us build and maintain relationships with local pastors and by scheduling our staff for presentations in churches.
Please Pray for the Florida Branch
Our South Florida branch would especially appreciate your prayers for:
- development of a Spanish ministry as we seek to recruit Spanish-speaking volunteers, and for our volunteer Mariella Perez as she phones Spanish churches in Miami
- the funding for a full-time office manager who will relieve our missionary staff of the day-today administrative burdens
- God to move in the hearts of local pastors to welcome our presentations and help us share the burden of Jewish evangelism with the many Christians in Florida, which would help us with needed funds, as well as helping Christians to reach their Jewish friends
- Operation Behold Your God in West Palm Beach (December of 2003) led by Stan and Chad, and Cleveland (August 18-September 1) led by Greg—that planning and recruiting will go well
- overcoming legal obstacles: we’ve been blocked from distributing literature in several street fairs, ball games and public campuses; pray that we will be successful in opening public venues to freely exercise our right to distribute religious literature