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!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • 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.