Once a stronghold of Democratic-leaning retirees, South Florida is now home to one of the most religious and politically diverse Jewish communities in America.
The news that President Carter’s United Nations ambassador, Andrew Young, had met in New York with a PLO representative spread furiously among the mostly Jewish residents of the new high-rise condominiums along southern Florida’s Gold Coast. Nowhere in the state was there a more dependable Democratic constituency, but the condominium voters were outraged by what they saw as Carter’s disloyalty to Israel. The ace Democratic operative in the condo communities, a diminutive Jewish woman named Anne “Annie” Ackerman, quickly recognized the danger and called her White House contacts with an urgent message: “You’ve got to get someone down here.”
Ackerman had moved with her husband, Irving, an insurance executive, to the Miami area in 1969 from Chicago. She was 55. Irving was 58. They were among the thousands of Jewish northerners, mostly retirees, attracted to the bright sun, the clear ocean water and the balmy climate. “The area was brand new,” Ackerman later told a reporter. “Everybody was coming from someplace else. I don’t think there were two native Floridians in the whole area.” Unlike many of her fellow Jewish transplants, however, Ackerman was less interested in leisure than in political work. Ackerman’s father, a Yiddish-speaking Russian immigrant, had been a garment worker and union activist. At the age of five, she joined him on a picket line, and politicking soon became her life’s work. She had honed her skills canvassing under the tutelage of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, the legendary big city boss. “She loved to organize,” recalls her son, Allen Ackerman. “She would organize the PTA. She would organize whatever there was to organize. If there was a cause, she would go after it.”
Read the full article by Tom Gjelten in Moment >