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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The third house threw off my calculations. A modern-looking plexiglass mezuza was affixed to the door, but the flower garden was graced by a beatific Mother Mary statue. A mixed marriage perhaps? Or maybe the original occupants were Jewish, while the new ones are not.

When my non-Jewish friend moved to a mezuza-clad house she told me she did not dare remove it. She enjoyed basking in what she felt was its spiritual aura. I wonder how many Jews would find peace from the loving gaze of a Mary statue.

Distracted, I failed to notice the gruffy old man glaring at me as I approached the doorway of the next house. Arms crossed, scowling, he impatiently awaited my explanation.

“Oh, hello,” I murmured. What could I possibly say to explain my presence at his front door? Too old to be selling Girl Scout cookies. Not enough makeup to be peddling Avon. But telling the truth seemed unwise. “Just checking for Jewish homes,” or “Do you know if many Jews live around here?” would surely sound strange.

“Have a nice day,” was all I could manage. Scuttling off his property, I wondered if Florida’s notorious “stand-your-ground” gun law included protecting one’s home from mezuza-checkers.

When safely back in my car, I decided to abandon the house-to-house search and head to the clubhouse. I wasn’t sure exactly what kind of Jew clues I expected to find there. Perhaps, like art or pornography, I would know it when I saw it.

The first announcement on the community bulletin board told me I was on to something. This Saturday night’s not-to-be-missed show featured “an internationally known singer and master comedian direct from cruise ships and country clubs across the country.” Inflated entertainment reviews are not exclusively Jewish, but the Catskills-like entertainment sounded promising.

The next two fliers assured me I was getting warmer. Forthcoming would be not one but two resident-produced theatrical shows. The “ORIGINAL Theater Group” — with the word “original” highlighted and in bold — was putting on its “Fogie Follies” in two weeks. The other group would perform its own musical revue the week after.


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