At the end of the 20th century, Miami Beach’s South Beach neighborhood became the go-to destination for older “snowbirds” wintering there to escape the cold and ice of the Northeast.
Among them were many Jews, some of them Holocaust survivors who immigrated to America and after decades of hard work retired in the sun. During those years, Yiddish, their mamaloshen – mother tongue – could be heard everywhere in South Beach.
In December 1999, New York-based photographer Naomi Harris visited Miami Beach to document the Haddon Hall Hotel, where many of those retired Jews spent the winter. The hotel offered tiny rooms with kitchenettes at low rates. Harris settled in with the residents and gradually became their unofficial granddaughter.
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Equipped with a 35-mm camera and slide film, she photographed the zeydes and bubbes sitting by the pool, exercising, having fun at the bingo club or beauty salon, and chatting on the terrace.
After spending two months at the hotel, Harris became a permanent Miami resident. She completed her project two and a half years ago, long after most of the snowbirds had stopped coming to the hotel. The pictures now serve as a memory of their golden years and a bygone time.
Harris’ Haddon Hall photographs are on exhibit until the beginning of October at Jerusalem’s Black Box Gallery at 97 Jaffa Road.
Daniel Tchetchik has worked at Haaretz since 2003, photographing for the Galleria and weekend supplements. He is creator and editor of the Haaretz photography blog. His work has been exhibited in Israel’s top museums and at a number of exhibitions abroad. His work may be viewed at danieltchetchik.com