House-Hunting in Florida Suburbia Turns Into Great Mezuzah Trek

How Can You Tell if People Next Door Are Jewish?

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By Nancy Kalikow Maxwell

Published May 26, 2013, issue of May 31, 2013.
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My childhood friend Sami’s mother claimed she could drive down a residential street and pick out where fellow Jews lived. Granted, most Jews don’t select colonial décor — too Daughters of the American Revolution for our taste. But she denied relying on knotty-pine coffee tables to weed out the non-Jews. Rather, she claimed to possess a “sixth sense” to intuit Jewish homes.

I wish I had her extrasensory perception. After my husband died and my daughter went away to college, I decided to sell my four bedroom house in suburban Davie, Fla., and move to a 55-plus community. But I wanted one with a large concentration of other Jews. Approximately 10–15% of Broward County’s population is Jewish, but not all of the condo developments are thought to reflect this demographic.

Century Village and Kings Point are known to be heavily Jewish. John Knox Village is not, perhaps because its namesake was a 16th-century Protestant religious reformer. When my real estate agent mentioned another, I was uncomfortable asking him if it was particularly Jewish.

I might have brought it up if I thought he was Jewish, but his last name sounded Irish. Instead, I decided to visit the community and attempt to discern its religious makeup on my own. It was time to test my own Jewdar.

I began by employing a modified version of God’s Passover method. Driving slowly down the first block of the development, I looked for mezuzas on the door frames. But because the single-family homes are set back from the road, and my eyesight is not as good as God’s, I couldn’t see as far as the front door. I pulled over, parked in front of one of the houses and began walking.

Halfway up the first walkway I spotted my first mezuza — one of those green and black ones like the souvenir my parents brought back from Israel. Okay, I thought, so at least one Jew must live here.

I repeated my trek to the next house. Alas, the door sported no mezuza. So maybe the development was 50% Jewish.


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