Tale of Two Jewish Towns on Shore

Lakewood Buzzes Back After Sandy, While Deal Stays in Dark

Storm Split: Sandy struck the entire Jersey Shore hard. But while one Jewish town is sputtering back to life, another still sits in the dark.
getty images
Storm Split: Sandy struck the entire Jersey Shore hard. But while one Jewish town is sputtering back to life, another still sits in the dark.

By Seth Berkman

Published November 05, 2012, issue of November 16, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Amid the widespread devastation on New Jersey’s Atlantic Ocean shore following Hurricane Sandy, there was a tale of two Jewish towns as they each marked the sabbath.

In Deal, a borough of about 1,000 residents — most of them upper income Syrian Jews — the streets were eerily quiet as the Sabbath approached. Neither the beachfront mansions nor the kosher restaurants on Route 71 had had electricity since the storm four days earlier.

seth berkman

“It’s a ghost town,” said Ana Biton, who sought relief in the Synagogue of Deal because her power remained out. Early estimates had customers waiting more than a week for electricity to be restored.

Twenty miles south in Lakewood, life was vibrant but just as perilous for the close to 100,000 residents, a majority of them ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi Jews. Power was coming back in patches; at Beth Medrash Govoha, one of the largest yeshivas in the world, electricity was on throughout the campus, and the sound of prayer reverberated through classrooms full of students. But two blocks away on Route 9, the main highway through town, stoplights were out and police were directing traffic, making driving dangerous at night.

The differences were products of the vagaries of the relief effort. But in Deal, few were taking their longer wait for relief stoically.

“We want to know why nothing is being done, and when we will see someone who can tell us anything,” said resident Lauren Dadoun, sitting in the Synagogue of Deal, one of the only buildings open in town, thanks to power provided from generators. More than 100 local residents had stopped in at various times since the storm to charge cell phones, tablets and other electronic devices, said Dadoun and others at the synagogue on the night of November 1. People came, too, they said, to regain the slightest sense of community, by talking with their neighbors.

Nearby, Dadoun ’s two-year-old son, Alexander, played with other children, while wearing an oversized pair of winter gloves. Dadoun said at night he needs a nebulizer; without power she was keeping him bundled up in blankets by a fireplace to keep warm in the unheated facility.

Looking at her son, Dadoun lamented, “Today it’s really cold. We’re not sleeping. We’re tired.”

Next door to the synagogue, kosher restaurants and markets were closed, their windows taped up and awnings missing after being blown off by the wind. Biton said she went to a Costco in a neighboring town and customers stood in line for hours to check out. Dadoun recalled how she saw a fist fight erupt over products in a Wegman’s.

When President Barack Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie surveyed nearby Shore towns on October 31, two days after Sandy reached the Shore, the polarizing politicians from opposite parties were praised nationally for their unity. Those huddled inside the Synagogue of Deal were less impressed.


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!
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • 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.