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.
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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.
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Marks lives here. Her roommate, Leah Rothschild, 30, doesn’t have a car or a credit card. Both work for the radical environmental magazine Earth First! Journal, affiliated with a movement known for civil disobedience against lumber and mining concerns.

There are more than a few young Jews among the 50 or so anarchists in Lake Worth. The anarchists here organize on environmental and immigrant rights issues, among others, and try to be self-sufficient.

“We believe in self-government, we believe in autonomy,” Rothschild said. “We want to be in control of our own lives.”

Rothschild is intense. She speaks in long anecdotes, tugging at a single braid hidden in her long black hair. She has a spiral tattoo on her shoulder and a stud in each nostril. Her father immigrated to the United States from Jerusalem as a child. He was laid off a decade ago from a corporate job, and now, at 75, he runs a flower shop. She doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to retire.

“In theory I’m pro-Obama, but Obama’s one of those mask-wearing presidents, like Clinton was,” Rothschild said, referring to Bill Clinton’s failure, in her eyes, to fulfill promises he made on environmental issues. Rothschild said she likely would not vote.

Another young Jewish Lake Worth anarchist was more direct about not voting. “The economic crisis has been created by Wall Street and corporate greed, with which both major presidential candidates are intimately tied,” wrote Audrey Paisley, 25, in an email. “I do not believe any of their rhetoric that says otherwise and I am disgusted by the whole charade.”


Sebastian Gordon stood in the empty parking lot of Temple Beth Tikvah. The hood of his pickup was open. His mother had died two weeks before, so he had come to synagogue to say Kaddish. Temple Beth Tikvah can usually pull together a minyan, though not always without calling in synagogue staff. But today more than a dozen men showed up for the lengthy morning service. Gordon was lucky.

At least, until he got back out to the parking lot and found his truck wouldn’t start. His nose was smudged with engine grease while he stood waiting for the mechanic on his landscaping crew to show up and help get the pickup going again.

Gordon moved here from Argentina 12 years ago, just before the 2001 economic collapse that sent middle-class Argentineans scavenging garbage dumps for food.

“I was feeling something really bad coming,” Gordon said of his decision to emigrate when he did. “I came here, and another crisis followed me.”


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