Some Northeasterners flying to Florida in late October and early November won’t be the usual snowbirds. In fact, these Jewish men and women are far from retirement age.
They are twentysomethings on a mission: Operation Bubbe.
Their aim is to get Jewish seniors populating condo colonies and senior centers in Palm Springs, Boca Raton, Delray Beach and North Miami to the polls in the Nov. 2 presidential election.
In Florida, the swing state made famous for the hanging chads and Jewish Buchanan vote that decided the last presidential contest, the volunteers will work with the pro-Kerry organization ACT: America Coming Together, which is focused on a broader effort to get out the vote.
Mik Moore, 30, a political consultant from Washington Heights who created Operation Bubbe, noted that more than 600,000 Jews live in Florida.
“I’m not sure what percentage are seniors,” he said, “but it’s a healthy chunk of voters.”
In July, Moore was talking with friends about people who are taking time off from work to hit swing states on behalf of Democratic nominee John Kerry.
“One person said, ‘Why not have Jews go to Florida, where there’s a large Jewish community?’ ” Moore recalled.
Thus, Operation Bubbe was born. Its Web site, www.operationbubbe.com, went live last weekend, and Moore just began distributing promotional postcards. Twenty-five people have signed on for the Florida project.
Though Moore originally thought he’d only get New Yorkers, people from all over the country have shown interest. He hopes to tap into the youthful energy that former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s campaign worked with so well.
“This year there is a whole new group of people, regular folks, many of whom are not normally politically active, who feel compelled to get up and do something, and many are Jews,” Moore said.
“A lot of people have very strong feelings about the war, the economy, the effect of our government’s policy on Israel and the whole Middle East region, issues which are really compelling to folks my age,” Moore said.
Many Operation Bubbe-niks will be guests of fellow travelers whose bubbes actually live in the Sunshine State and will put them up. Volunteers pay their own way to and from Florida, and they make their own arrangements. But Operation Bubbe will have a kickoff party and help connect people to area synagogues.
Moore is confident he will have about 100 people committed to Operation Bubbe.
“A lot of young Jews are committed to seeing a change in Washington and are willing to take extraordinary steps to make that happen,” he said, “including leaving their homes to get their hands dirty and do the kind of hard work that most people never engage in.”