Local Obituaries

Mike Brodie, a champion of Jewish causes in South Florida, dies at 84

Mike Brodie, executive vice president of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, in 1991.
Mike Brodie, executive vice president of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, in 1991. Miami Herald file photo

The summer he turned 13, Myron J. “Mike” Brodie saw the photograph that would shape his life.

It was 1945 and World War II was coming to a close, he would later recall to the Miami Herald.

But as knowledge of the Holocaust emerged from Germany, the teenage Brodie “saw a picture of a little Jewish boy in the Holocaust with a Jewish star on, with a trooper pointing a gun at him with his hands up,” his son Steve Brodie remembered Friday. “That’s when my father decided to commit his life’s journey to making sure that would never happen again.”

For the rest of his life, Brodie, who helmed the Greater Miami Jewish Federation for two decades, fought to raise awareness of the Jewish faith. As the Federation’s chief administrator in the ’70s and ’80s, he guided South Florida’s Jewish community through a period of rapid growth and transformation.

He died in Miami on Saturday at the age of 84, his son Steve and daughter Debbie confirmed. The cause was Parkinson’s disease, said Jacob Solomon, his colleague and current Federation president.

Brodie, who remained an executive vice president emeritus until his death, became known for his tireless advocacy for Jewish issues in Miami-Dade, particularly when it came to Israel, Solomon said. He helped raise millions of dollars during the more than 20 years he worked for the organization and led dozens of tours to Israel for non-Jewish and Jewish community leaders to demonstrate the country’s importance. He also helped guide the Federation’s efforts to resettle Soviet Jews in Israel and the United States, and was involved in helping build and support a high school in Israel.

Solomon described Brodie as a man who was both demanding and compassionate — not just a mentor, but a friend.

He was very clear about what was good and bad, what was right and wrong. He was living a mission in service to the Jewish people and to Israel, and he was very intense in pursuit of that mission.

Jacob Solomon, president and CEO, Greater Miami Jewish Federation

“There was an inner force to him that was formidable,” Solomon recalled Friday. “He was very clear about what was good and bad, what was right and wrong. He was living a mission in service to the Jewish people and to Israel, and he was very intense in pursuit of that mission.”

Myron J. Brodie was born July 23, 1932, in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. He moved as a child to Massachusetts, where he would meet his high school sweetheart and future wife, Charlotte.

They fell in love at a camp they attended for multiple summers and married in 1952, their daughter Debbie Brodie-Weiss said. He was 20; she was 22 and a half.

But their marriage, which lasted nearly 65 years, still had the bloom of fresh love, she added. Brodie regularly called Charlotte “my bride” long after they were married, and Charlotte kept calling him Myron even after he took on the nickname “Mike.”

“It was a beautiful, beautiful, lifetime love affair,” Brodie-Weiss said.

Brodie went on to serve in the military as a social worker, and the couple settled in Missouri, where Steve and Debbie were born.

In 1963, Brodie was offered a job with the South Broward Jewish Federation in Hollywood. They had another son, David, in 1966. In 1968, Brodie moved to the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, where he would spend the rest of his professional career.

His work quickly augmented the federation’s efforts to support the growing Jewish population in South Florida, Solomon said.

“He worked with some of the most powerful and influential members of the community, and he was never afraid to speak truth to them,” Solomon recalled. “He was never afraid to make requests of them to do extraordinary things, to jump on a plane and go to Israel for an emergency, to make a significant contribution.”

Those requests weren’t always answered, but Brodie earned their respect.

“They took his calls; they said yes to meetings,” Solomon said. “He was viewed with tremendous admiration.”

Brodie’s talents for bringing together a community did not go unnoticed, his children said. Calls came from other federations in New York or Los Angeles, asking if he would consider taking a job with them.

But Brodie, mindful of uprooting his children in school and spending enough time with his family, always declined, they added.

“No matter how hard he worked, he always seemed to make plenty of time for all of us,” Steve Brodie said.

Brodie also served on the Florida Ethics Commission and the board of Greater Miami United, and taught at Barry University’s Graduate School of Social Work.

For years, Brodie’s office at the Federation’s headquarters on Biscayne Boulevard bore proof of his years of service: photos of him with several foreign leaders, including former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, former U.S. Secretary of State George Schultz and former Israeli President Chaim Herzog.

When he retired in 1992, nearly 500 people paid tribute at his going-away dinner, the Herald reported at the time. Still, Brodie remained involved in the federation’s work, coming to the office often despite his advancing Parkinson’s and mentoring Solomon’s younger staff.

When one of them was upset or a crisis occurred, “they’d visit Mr. Brodie — he’d listen to them and comfort them,” Solomon recalled. “He was a presence right up to the end.”

Brodie is survived by his wife, Charlotte, his son Steve and daughter Debbie, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. His younger son David passed away in 2016.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. June 19 at Bet Shira Congregation, 7500 SW 120th St. in Pinecrest. An internment will follow at Mt. Nebo/Miami Memorial Gardens at 5505 NW Third St.