Bessie's Bistro

Two former synagogues that served Miami Beach's first Jewish congregation have been meticulously restored and connected with a skylighted center court.

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In September 1945, one month after Japan surrendered, and as World War II came to an end, a very symbolic event in the transformation of the American Jewish experience took place. Bess Myerson uplifted the mood in the Jewish community when she was crowned Miss America, the living symbol of the American woman. Never before, and not since, has a Jewish girl received this recognition - and she did not change her name to a less Jewish-sounding one, as requested by the pageant management.

Bess, from a Yiddish speaking, working class family, was known as the "brainy" Miss America and also won the talent competition. Facing much discrimination during and after the pageant, Bess Myerson became an activist for civil rights. During the 1950s and '60s, she was on several TV shows, then for the next two decades served as a consumer rights and cultural advocate for the City of New York.

In 2002 she moved to Florida; she currently resides in California, near her family.

In memory of the happy years her parents, Bella and Louis Myerson, lived in the neighborhood around the Museum during the 1970s, Bess Myerson donated funds to build the Bistro. She also donated her memorabilia to the Museum's archives, some of which is displayed on the Bistro walls.

Her autobiographical book is for sale in the Museum Store.

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