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