New political committee, 1000 Jews of Florida, seeks to unite community facing hate

New political committee, 1000 Jews of Florida, seeks to unite community facing hate

The committee started with conversations about the rise in high-profile antisemitic incidents around the state and country.

A new political committee is forming to unite Florida’s Jewish community — spurred on in part by the rise in high-profile antisemitic displays.

Surfside Mayor Shlomo Danzinger and Converge Public Strategies Chairman Jonathan Kilman are spearheading the Tallahassee-based political committee, 1000 Jews of Florida.

Most of its donors are from South Florida — long considered the most Democratic part of the state — but a news release says the committee is nonpartisan and seeking to address the concerns of Florida’s Jewish community and unite it in action.

“The committee seeks to galvanize Jewish voters and those who support common Jewish issues,” the release said.

Those issues, according to the news release, include:

— Public safety and security in Florida’s communities.

— Protecting free markets to ensure equal access to financial opportunity.

— Support for cultural institutions, such as Holocaust museums, that cultivate mutual understanding among Floridians.

— A positive and fair relationship with the state of Israel.

“We seek to engage the hundreds of thousands of Jews across the state who are politically interested, but not yet politically engaged,” Mayor Danzinger said. “We don’t intend to take on every Jewish issue, but we will start with an agreed-upon foundation of values and will identify appropriate issues as we build our organization.”

Kilman, who leads the governmental relations and communications firm, alluded to endorsements and support for political candidates to come. “We should be out building relationships with aligned candidates and elected officials on an ongoing basis, and 1000 Jews of Florida provides a vehicle for that,” Kilman said.

A spokesman for the group noted the rise in antisemitic incidents in Florida and across the country. Several locations around the state have seen high-profile displays of Nazi swastikas, demonstrators assembling with Nazi regalia and drops of antisemitic fliers in Jewish enclaves, so much that it spurred legislation this Session.

“Even as we began speaking about forming the political committee, video footage was circulating of hate groups harassing Jews in Florida out in the open, with no shame,” Elnatan Rudolph, a partner at Converge Strategies and a committee donor, wrote in an email.

“While Jews are becoming more aware of these issues, we realized politicians at the state and local levels may only become aware in the aftermath of tragic events, when Jews call for help.”

Instead of reacting to a crisis, the group decided to nurture allies before these events occur and identify the issues that unite the Jewish community.

“As we contemplated our mission, we understood our interests extend beyond antisemitism and developed the common set of principles for which we believe many Jews will stand up,” Rudolph said in an email.

A 2021 Pew Research Center survey found that seven in 10 Jewish adults identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party. A 2022 survey from the Washington-based Jewish Electorate Institute found that 66% of Jewish voters identify as Democratic, while 25% identify as Republican.

Each of the donations that the committee has collected so far has the number “18” in it.

Certain numbers have significance in Judaism, and the letters that correspond with 10 and eight spell out the word “Chai,” which is a word and symbol that means “life,” according to an explainer from the Jewish Community Center in Milwaukee