The Jewish Advocate: Fictional Jews mix with real celebrities in 1972 Miami Beach

By Daniel M. Kimmel, Advocate staff

The summer of 1972 was an interesting moment in time, especially for Jews in Miami Beach. Both the Democratic and the Republican presidential nominating conventions were being held there that summer. Meyer Lansky, one of the last of the old-time Jewish mobsters, was holding court, having been barred from making aliyah to Israel. So was famed Yiddish novelist Isaac Bashevis Singer, having relocated from New York. It was a time when it was possible to run into Muhammad Ali, known as “the Greatest,” who was in training there, or Jackie Gleason, whose long-running TV show had been cancelled, but was still “the Great One.”

Into this mix author Thane Rosenbaum has added the fictional Posner family. Sophie and Jacob are Holocaust survivors whose marriage has produced a son, Adam, set to become a bar mitzvah that summer. Sophie is tough as nails and takes on Lansky at one of his poker games, winning his respect and becoming a trusted advisor. Jacob, who fought with the partisans, seems to have used up all his fight. Now he walks around Miami, occasionally having lunch with Singer, where the author prods him to tell his story. As for Adam, he feels he’s been left to raise himself, and finds some comfort in meeting football star Bob Hayes, a former Olympic sprinter. Adam is known as the fastest kid at his school, but doesn’t know if that still holds with the coming of integration.

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