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March 30, 1990 - Image 26

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-03-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Pho tos by Arg ollo Hern andez/courtesy o f Miami Conven tion and Vistors Bureau

South Miami Beach has boomed in the past two years, brightened by restored hotels, new restaurants and plenty of yuppies. But the economic revival has displaced many low income elderly Jews.

The Chanaina Tides Of Miami Beach

C

ool ocean breezes waft
through a hotel veranda
where Clara Rosenthal sits
with her friend Clara Wein-
stein. Bundled in sweaters
and kerchiefs, the elderly ladies might
pass the time shmoozing about their
grandchildren or guessing when warm
weather will return to Miami Beach.
But on this December morning they
talk apprehensively about an empty
hotel next door being renovated to at-
tract a younger clientele. For Rosen-
thal, the clamor of hammers and nerve
rattling drills sound a death knell for a
way of life she has known for 18 years.
Throwing an afghan over her
shoulders, she sighs and wonders
aloud when she, like other Jewish eld-
erly on the beach, will be kicked out of
her winter home.
The Clara Rosenthals of Miami
Beach — thousands of elderly people
who winter here or live in apartments
year round — are literally a dying
breed. Those who came to settle on the
beach in the 1950s, '60s and '70s have
either passed on or moved up the
Florida coast.
Over the past seven years, there has
been a 29 percent drop in the number
of Jews in Miami Beach, a city where
the street signs once were written in
English and Yiddish. The first major
wave of Jewish settlement on Miami
Beach goes back to World War II,

26

FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 1990

A chapter closes for "Little
Jerusalem" as Jewish retirees
push north along south Florida's coast.

ELLEN BERNSTEIN

Special to the Jewish News

when Jewish soldiers stationed there
decided to stay after the war. Since
then the Jewish population of Miami
Beach has doubled every decade, fed
mostly by retirees from northern
states.
But from 1982 to 1988 their
numbers plummeted from 82,000 to
58,000, according to surveys con-
ducted by Ira Sheskin, a demographer
and professor of urban geography at
the University of Miami. Three-
quarters Jewish at the start of the
decade, Miami Beach will be less than
a third Jewish as the city enters the
1990s.
Gone are the days when 15 or 20
people sang Jewish melodies in front
of a apartment buildings until ten
o'clock in the evening. At the old
kosher hotels on Washington Street,
seniors sat in the lobby gossiping in
Yiddish, pinching the cheeks of
visiting grandchildren. From the kit-
chen came the smells of simmering
chicken. Plates of gefilte fish ringed
the tables in the dining rooms.
Those were the familiar signs,
sounds and smells of a city that liked
to call itself "Little Jerusalem." But
the haimische quality of life in Miami
Beach's oldest section, South Beach, is
fast disappearing as developers buy up
the old, run-down hotels and Latins
and young professionals move into the
area.

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