South Florida Jews Go to Polls at Last

Election Day Comes to Boca Raton and Delray Beach

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By JTA

Published November 06, 2012.
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“If Romney gets in, he will not be president, he will be king,” said Sandy Richter, who was sipping coffee with four friends, all of whom were supporting Obama. “He’s a tyrant.”

Across the restaurant, a parallel group of five men finishing their lunch said that they, too, were supporting the president.

“I just don’t like to lose any more of our freedoms,” Alvin Wolff said. “My family should be able to do with their body what they want to do with it. I should be able to marry anybody I want to marry. I should be able to pray or not pray when I want to.”

The Bagel Tree is located next to the large and overwhelmingly Jewish King’s Point retirement community, the residents of which Dinnerstein called “the most hardcore liberal Jews, maybe in America.” Only one patron on Tuesday admitted to supporting Romney.

“I have eight great-grandchildren in Israel,” said the Romney backer, a woman who declined to give her name but identified herself as pro-choice on abortion and as a Medicare beneficiary. “Obama sat for 20 years in his church with that Rev. Wright. And I feel – I mean I know – he’s an Arab lover.”

Such sentiments, however, were rare – or at least rarely voiced – among the Jewish Floridians who were interviewed. Still, for all the solid Jewish backing of the president, there was a palpable lack of enthusiasm for the candidate who electrified the country four years ago with his talk of hope and change.

Even many of the Obama backers agreed with Dinnerstein’s prediction that the president would fall short of the level of Jewish support he enjoyed in 2008. In interviews Tuesday with more than a dozen Jewish voters, Obama was not infrequently described as the lesser of two evils.

“I voted against Romney,” Victor Barth said. “I don’t think we had too much of a choice. I took the better of the two evils.”

Barth and his wife, Rhoda, cast their votes for Obama on Tuesday afternoon at Temple Emeth, a Conservative congregation in Delray Beach located barely a mile from a mammoth billboard showing an Iranian missile aimed squarely at Israel. The caption: “Friends don’t let friends get nuked. Stop Obama.”

“Terrible,” Rhoda Barth said. “It is shameful. It should not be up there.”


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