Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

The Jews who call Florida's massive retirement community The Villages home


Caleb Reed/JTA

Rabbi Zev Sonnenstein stands in the sanctuary of Temple Shalom of Central Florida, a Reform congregation just outside The Villages that welcomes around 200 congregants for Shabbat.

SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. (JTA) - When Ellen Faulkner told her friends that she was moving to The Villages, the sprawling senior community in Central Florida, they cautioned her: There was no Jewish life there.

Faulkner hadn't noticed that during her visit, which was made at the urging of a high school classmate who told her rapturously about what it was like to live in the 55-plus community that's home to 125,000 self-described "Villagers." She had been captivated by the free concerts, huge crowds in the streets, and endless restaurants and storefronts at Lake Sumter Landing, a waterside mall th...

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