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 3 of 6)

When Todd Kevitch, 45, moved his family into a development in West Boynton in 2008, the market had already begun to fall from the wildly inflated prices his neighbors had paid. He thought he had caught a deal during a momentary lull. He was wrong.

“Immediately after we bought, six months later, the values kept going down, people became a lot more apathetic, miserable,” said Kevitch, who works as a real estate broker. “You could see lawns growing higher, pools turning black.”

Two homes across the street from his were vacant for three years. The house next door is still empty.

“It’s not scary. It’s depressing,” Kevitch said. “It doesn’t happen overnight. It happens gradually. You kind of live with it.”

A JCC in West Palm Beach closed. A Conservative Jewish day school in Boynton Beach closed. Enrollment at the Hebrew school at Temple Beth Tikvah, a Conservative synagogue near Lake Worth, dropped from 120 kids to fewer than 30. The Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County raised $17 million less in 2009 than it had in 2007.

The Jewish Family & Children’s Service, which was used to fielding a few irregular emergency calls from the chronically poor, was deluged with panicked phone calls from middle-class and once-wealthy people. Adult children began moving in with their parents at the retirement communities, bringing along husbands and girlfriends — but risking expulsion if they brought children.

Donald Steinberg’s home is still underwater. A teacher in the Palm Beach County public school system, he has a soft Quebecois accent and a serious face. Steinberg bought a home in a development near Lake Worth in 2000. Now he owes more on it than the home is worth, but he’s not walking away.

“I wasn’t raised that way,” Steinberg said. “A man has responsibilities.”

Steinberg, 47, voted for John McCain in 2008. He’s voting for Mitt Romney this year, but he doesn’t sound enthusiastic. “At this point I would say he would do a little bit better of a job” than Obama has done, Steinberg said. “I really think this country is in such dire straits, I don’t think anyone could fix it.”


The anarchists don’t air-condition their place in downtown Lake Worth, but the shotgun house stays cool in the shade of a ficus tree. There’s an unexplained scythe next to the door and fire-dancing gear in the yard. They’ve planted seeds outside, though their claim to be growing vegetables is undermined by their pronouncement that they’re going to use the full-sized rusted-out tractor sitting in front of the house to till their tiny plot.


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!
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • 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.