That kind of coexistence is hard to come by in Israel. Until Spain traded Florida to Britain in exchange for Havana in 1763, Florida was subject to the laws of the Spanish Inquisition and Jewish residents were forbidden.
When Jews began settling in the area in the 19th century, landlords and business owners routinely posted “Gentiles Only” signs on their properties. “Always a view, never a Jew,” read one hotel advertisement from the 1930s.
What distinguishes Florida from Israel is the live-and-let-live spirit that reigns here.
In Miami Beach, haredi Orthodox Jewish women lounge by the pool alongside Spanish tourists dressed in Speedo bathing suits.
Another, from the Coronado Hotel, read: “Air-conditioned rooms available. Gentile clientele.” Others made do with the somewhat more subtle “Restricted Clientele.” The first synagogue in Miami Beach, Beth Jacob, was built in 1929 on Washington Avenue between 3rd and 4th streets because at the time Jews were not allowed to live north of 5th.
The building, which operated as a synagogue until 1986, has since been turned into the Jewish Museum of Florida.
The Mission of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation is to mobilize human and financial resources to care for those in need, strengthen Jewish life and advance the unity, values and shared purpose of the Jewish people in Miami, in Israel and around the world.