Welcome to Century Village is a collection of short stories narrated by second and third
generation Jewish Americans living in South Florida. All of the stories are told in first-person, in a distinctly Yiddish idiom. Most of the stories in the collection are about elderly Jews living in Building E of Century Village, a retirement community in Boca Raton and a world unto itself. These stories have recurring characters that are dealing with similar issues: loneliness, aging, wayward children and grandchildren, and the changing ethnic landscape of their close-knit community and of multicultural South Florida. The stories focus on the primarily Jewish milieu of Century Village, a closed world of clubhouse kibitzers, shuttle bus shoppers, and sun worshippers at the pool. It’s a threatened world and a dying world, and these stories render the changing landscape of South Florida, with its shrinking older Jewish community. Since I’m in
the process of transforming these Century Village stories into a novel, this thesis also includes an
excerpt the opening chapter of the novel.
There are four Century Village stories in this collection--with characters from one story
appearing in the others--as well as the novel excerpt. The novel begins with the 2000 presidential election, and the opening is told from the point of view of Golda Rosenberg, the queen of the Century Village kibitzers and publisher of the newsletter Voice of the Village, as she goes to Temple Beth Shalom to vote. The next story, “Demitra Silverman,” involves Mimi Silverman, who at the age of seventy-two inherits a “half black” great-grandchild. “The Shlemiel of Century Village” is the story of Saul Schwartz, who is trying to toughen up and stop letting the world take advantage of him, but who suddenly finds his n’re do well son moving in with him and
testing his resolve. Another Century Village story, “Your Own Mother,” is told from the point of view of Adele Vogel, who longs for connection with her daughter, but finds that as her health
deteriorates, so does the possibility for this connection. The final Century Village story,
“Welcome to Century Village,” involves a romance between Rose Cohen and Ray Lopez, the first gentile resident of Building E.
In addition to the Century Village stories, this thesis includes two stories of third generation Jews in South Florida. “My New Motto” tells the story of a woman deciding between her Cuban handyman or giving up on men altogether, and like the Century Village stories, the voice is influenced by the patterns of Yiddish speech. “Fellow Travelers” is the story of flea
market sunglass salesman Abe Levitz, whose son returns from a trip from Russia with a surprise
that tests their relationship. Like the Century Village stories, these two stories of the next
generation also deal with the changing cultural landscape of South Florida.