Jewish Enclave Devastated by Sandy's Wrath

Historic Storm Leaves Brooklyn's Sea Gate On Its Knees

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

Published October 30, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page
Video: Nate Lavey


Hurricane-force winds and historic flooding from superstorm Sandy have devastated the Brooklyn neighborhood of Sea Gate, a gated community on the western tip of Coney Island that is home to several hundred Jewish families.

Many homes facing the Atlantic Ocean were gutted by floodwaters. A few were absolutely flattened by the raging winds. Broken windows gaped open. In one home, rising tides pushed furniture out through two bulging garage doors.

Razie Lefkowitz, whose home is still standing, said that she was watching the waves with some of her five children at around 6:30 p.m. Monday when the water started rising quickly.

“We basically just ran away,” she said.

Water rose to three or four feet deep on Surf Avenue, the main street, which is now impassible in some places. Lefkowitz said that one neighbor hung a white towel out of her second-story window to signal for help after the first story of her house flooded.

Lefkowitz, like many others here, rode out the storm. Despite the widespread severe damage, there are no reports so far of deaths or injuries in Sea Gate.

“The captain doesn’t leave the ship,” said Pinny Dembitzer, president of the local homeowners association, when asked via telephone Tuesday morning whether he had stayed the night.

Police were preventing cars from entering the community Tuesday afternoon. Pedestrians came and went, taking photos of crushed cars and damaged homes. Humming pumps were working to empty basements filled with water.

The streets were covered in sand blown in by the storm. Residents walked around in a daze, stunned by the historic disaster.


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!
  • 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."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • "Sometime in my childhood, I realized that the Exodus wasn’t as remote or as faceless as I thought it was, because I knew a former slave. His name was Hersh Nemes, and he was my grandfather." Share this moving Passover essay!
  • Getting ready for Seder? Chag Sameach! http://jd.fo/q3LO2
  • "We are not so far removed from the tragedies of the past, and as Jews sit down to the Seder meal, this event is a teachable moment of how the hatred of Jews-as-Other is still alive and well. It is not realistic to be complacent."
  • 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.