TGIF: No means yes in South Beach

A picture of the museum

The Jewish Museum Florida FIU was designed by Henry Hohauser who attended Pratt Institute.

South Beach is a place of defiance. I once heard someone say, people come to South Beach to do every “God forsaken” thing they wouldn’t do anywhere else! No means yes in South Beach.

It should come as no surprise that the Jewish community in South Beach has often defied the status quo.

Art Deco weekend.

Thousands of people come to Art Deco Weekend each year.

Barbara Capitman was a Jewish woman who defied the establishment. Capitman fought city officials “tooth and nail” to preserve the historical buildings that light up Miami Beach and make it the second most popular place in Florida. If not for her vision and perseverance, there would not be an Art Deco District. The over 800 Art Deco buildings that remain are testaments to Capitman’s defiance. The Art Deco District was the first 20th century neighborhood placed on the National Register of Historic Places much to her efforts. The Miami Design Preservation League continues Capitman’s legacy.


Miami Design Preservation League poster rallying the community.

What’s more, Henry Hohauser, an architect who was Jewish, built over 300 Art Deco buildings. Hohauser lived in an era when signs “Gentiles Only” and “No Jews Allowed” were commonplace in South Beach. Jews were not even allowed to live beyond 5th Street.

An Art Deco chandelier and displays inside the Jews

An Art Deco chandler and displays inside the Jewish Museum.

Visit one of Hohauser’s buildings and experience first hand the story of Jewish culture in Florida. Hohauser’s building, once a synagogue, is now the home of the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU. Eighty stained glass windows, a copper dome, and chandeliers are reminders of the days when Hohauser and others worshipped in the synagogue. Taste and see the Jewish experience during the Jewish Food Tour that leaves from the Museum. Learn how the Jewish community thrived despite many obstacles.

Falafel and Israeli salad.

Enjoy Falafel and Israeli salad on the Jewish Food Tour.

Facing off with those who thought South Beach should be known only as a place for “fun in the sun,” Holocaust survivors garnered public support for the building of the Holocaust Memorial. A memorial garden and a sobering sculpture recall those who died and remind all who visit: “we shall NEVER forget.”

Sculpture at the Holocaust memorial

A bronze sculpture by Ellsworth Kelly at the Holocaust Memorial.

The impact of Jewish culture permeates every aspect of the city. Mount Sinai Hospital was built because Jewish doctors weren’t given staff privileges at area hospitals. The Bass Museum scheduled to reopen in the fall, is named in honor of John and Johanna Bass, Jewish immigrants who bequeathed over 500 works of art to the City of Miami Beach.

The Bass Museum in Miami Beach.

The Bass Museum in Miami Beach during Art Basel.

It is said that obstacles are opportunities. Fighting bias and opposition, the Jewish community realized that no means yes in South Beach.


Winter Holiday at Ponce de Leon Lighthouse

Ponce de Leon Lighthouse

Florida’s tallest: Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse. Copyrighted by Elaine Marie.

Escape the hustle and bustle of the holidays on Dec. 26. Take time with kids to enjoy a fun filled day of family activities at Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse. FL.

Soaring 175 feet high, the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Florida and one of the tallest in the nation.

For more information, visit

Perceptions in Pastel

The First Coast Pastel Society (FCPS) presents “Preceptions in Pastel” art exhibit September 4-30. The exhibit features artwork by members of the FCPS. The opening reception is Sunday, September 13 from 1-3pm.

“Perceptions in Pastel” will be held at the Jewish Community Alliance (JCA) Vandroff Art Gallery. The JCA is located at 8505 San Jose Boulevard in Jacksonville, Florida. For more information, visit

Oil Company Eyes Florida Preserve

Florida Everglades

Oil and water don’t mix. Florida Everglades.

Florida has long been a popular site for tourists and developers, now oil companies are trying to cash in on the “Sunshine State.” Oil and water don’t mix but that is not stopping one oil company.

Big Cypress National Preserve is being targeted by a Texas Company looking for oil 2 miles beneath its surface. Burnett Oil of Fort Worth, Texas has been given the go ahead by Florida and the National Park Service. Currently Big Cypress wells produce 30,000 barrels a month. Burnett Oil states the survey will be conducted with “great care.” As Matthew Schwartz of the South Florida Wildlife Association states “there’s a limit to how Eco friendly you can make an oil well.”

The National Park Service believes that the environmental impact will be minimal. For some reason the Government is always an optimist when it comes to oil companies. I guess that is why they are still getting oil subsidies in spite of record profits.

Protecting Big Cypress swampland is key to the preservation of the Florida Everglades and Florida wildlife. Big Cypress is a national preserve that provides water to the Florida Everglades.


I am Abraham Lincoln by Brad Meltzer

I got a signed copy of the book “I am Abraham Lincoln” by Brad Meltzer from Books and Books in Coral Gables during a promotion.

Today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

A broadcaster said that the majority of Americans claim Lincoln as their favorite president. How ironic ! Lincoln made some of the most heroic yet controversial decisions that went against popular opinions in his day.

“I am Abraham Lincoln” is the title of a book by Brad Meltzer. The words “I am” have been transformed by popular culture into a challenge and declaration. Some think it all started with “I am Mike Brown” or during the civil rights era “I am a man” slogan.

Meltzer’s book “I am Abraham Lincoln” however is a book for children that speaks to the “hero” in all of us.

With adults clamoring for Legos, super hero movies and t-shirts, it is good to remember that there’s a hero latent in us. Heroism can’t be bought at a store or movie.

After all, God made us in His own image. When Moses asked God who shall I say sent me, God declared “I AM that I AM.” Now, we know where the “slogan” really began.


Referred to as “the working son in the family of rich Florida playboys,” Jacksonville is retooling itself for the 21st century. With a strong technology core and its first black major, Jacksonville is remaking its image. Founded by the French and named for Pres. Andrew Jackson, Jacksonville still proudly retains parts of its French heritage and Southern roots.

West side High School

Westside High School was formerly Nathan Bedford Forrest, founder of the Klu Klux Klan.

Jacksonville is a city with a history of paradoxes. The Kingsley Plantation on nearby Fort George Island was home to Zephaniah Kingsley, who was a slave owner and the husband of a Black woman. Fort Caroline also on Fort George Island stands guard over the city’s most precious natural resources. Fort Caroline according to Art & Cultural Scene, is also the site of the first Thanksgiving in 1564

Jacksonville guardian of the past and heir to the future.

Fort George Island.

My favorite place to paint is at Fort George Island.

While Tourists on I-95 bypass the Jacksonville for warmer climates, attractions and faster lifestyles, Jacksonville outranks many Florida cities. It was recognized in the 2014 list of Money Magazine’s “More Big-City Values.” The amenities and ambiance of the downtown neighborhood, Avondale, that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places brought attention to the city.

In addition to its stellar rating, Jacksonville has stellar golf courses. The Player’s Championship and the World Golf Village are home to the area. In addition to great golf, the city has pristine beaches, outstanding fishing and numerous out-door recreational opportunities. The jewel of the city however, is the Cummer Museum and Gardens.

The Cummer Museum holds one of the finest art collections in the Southeast, with nearly 5,000 objects in its Permanent Collection. The Museum’s 2.5 acres of historic gardens are unique examples of early 20th century garden design, featuring reflecting pools, fountains, arbors, antique ornaments, and sculptures. Art Connections, the Museum’s nationally recognized interactive education center, enhances the cultural learning of visitors of all ages by offering educational programs and interactive opportunities, both in and out of the Museum, allowing visitors to gain a better understanding of works in the Collection. (