Election Holds Little Hope for Florida Jews

Punishing Recession Has Many Thinking About Staying Home

Don’t Move Here: The large developments populated by many retirees and transplants are suffering from foreclosures and a stagnant real estate market.
Getty Images
Don’t Move Here: The large developments populated by many retirees and transplants are suffering from foreclosures and a stagnant real estate market.

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published October 16, 2012, issue of October 19, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 2 of 6)

Menzer and Marks don’t know each other. But Menzer said that he doesn’t blame Marks and her friends for their alienation.

“I can understand these kids. I really do,” said Menzer. “The society has changed.” Menzer was offered four different jobs when he graduated from college. “I worry about my grandsons,” he said. “What are they going to be?”


Lake Worth didn’t always bleed away into sprawl. When 68-year-old real estate agent Cory Fishman moved to Florida in 1972, Hagen Ranch Road was lined with gladiola farms. Migrant agricultural workers bunked in pastel-painted concrete block homes beside the road.

Today, Hagen Ranch Road is all retirement communities. Phony stone waterfalls flow next to the closed gates. Inside, identical homes sit end to end, so that it’s hard to tell when you’ve circled back to where you started. Homeowners on the inside rows pay a premium for views of small, kitsch manmade ponds.

The concept here was country club–style living a step up from what was on offer at Century Village, the classic 1970s Jewish condo community a half hour away in West Palm Beach. “When our generation moved down that was no longer satisfying,” Fishman said. They wanted something more, and “they had the means to be able to afford it.”

Or at least they thought they did. These weren’t the lower-income seniors who live in Century Village today. But they also weren’t wealthy enough to afford Boca Raton, never mind Palm Beach, the skinny little town on a barrier island just east of here. Palm Beach has The Breakers Hotel and massive mansions and a condominium development actually called The Patrician.

“This is a blue jeans kind of place,” said Rabbi Anthony Fratello, 41, spiritual leader of Temple Shaarei Shalom, a Reform synagogue outside of Boynton Beach. “It’s a solid middle-class area. Yes, you’ve got doctors and lawyers. But we have an awful lot of teachers.”

Young families followed the retirees to the area, answering ads promising “Boca living at Boynton prices.” Their developments began to fill in 2005 and 2006, teeing them up for extraordinary foreclosure rates when the 2008 financial crash came. Boynton Beach alone added 12,000 Jewish households between 1999 and 2005.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.