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!
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • 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.