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!
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • “You will stomp us into the dirt,” is how her mother responded to Anya Ulinich’s new tragicomic graphic novel. Paul Berger has a more open view of ‘Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • 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.