A remarkable Jewish renaissance is under way in Florida. Jewish schools and synagogues are rapidly expanding. Jews from the Northeast and Midwest, as well as Latin America and Israel, are migrating to the Sunshine State in significant numbers, making the Jewish communities there lively and varied. Florida’s booming and low-tax economy is no doubt one of the attractions to young Jews seeking to build a prosperous future for themselves and their families. So is Florida’s educational system, which provides tax credits that assist many parents in sending their children to Jewish day schools.
A few years ago, we helped launch the Jewish Leadership Conference, an annual gathering to consider the challenges facing the Jewish people and Israel. It is hosted by Tikvah, a 20-year old Jewish educational and cultural institution whose main activity in America is teaching young Jews about Jewish history and civilization. We thought it would be interesting to invite Gov. Ron DeSantis to discuss how the “Florida model” has contributed to the growth and vitality of Jewish life in his state. The event was to be held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. Until, as the saying goes, we got canceled.
Over the years, Tikvah has hosted numerous conferences at the museum, always including prominent Jewish, Israeli and American thinkers and leaders of various political and religious points of view. We were working closely with the museum on the details for the June 12 event—until, out of the blue, we were told by the museum staff that Mr. DeSantis didn’t “align with the museum’s values and its message of inclusivity.” Either we disinvite the governor, they said, or our event was unwelcome.