Warless, crimeless, murderless… trip highlights!

Since a shit-ton of wrong went down this summer – in Israel and across the world – I’m going to dedicate this post to the happy, quirky, tiny moments of the trip I took with the kids to visit family in New York this month.

On my first day in Ameeeerica, I have now seen EVERYTHING. Liz OUT. 

One of my favorite things to visit. Couldn’t keep my hands off.

Ok, sorry, I lied. But I couldn’t help it. I, on the one hand, hate the sensationalist news in New York, and on the other hand, can’t be there without breathing it like a true native.

A pride and a privilege to see this happen for the first time. My brothers and I ate slept breathed the New York Public Library growing up (thanks mom).

Found an old friend. Put on the big cushy headphones and hit play for kicks… and it played… played and played some obscure teenage song… from my old mix tape collection. For the, um, record, I made some pretty good ripped-off-the-radio mixed tapes.

WRONG.

The kids met their cousin. Bebe was quite taken.

We broke the rules a few times.

The city.

It’s not New York without a visit from the FDNY.

‘And did you hear the Rosenbergs are down in Fort Lauderdale this month? Oh can you just imagine?’

Bebe was taken with a lot of new things… and a particular uncle…

We wrote to ‘our’ congressman to try and save the elephants… the 96 Elephants Project at the NY Aquarium.

That guy.

You know you’re getting older when…

The mother ship.

The Big Green Lady.

So when we arrived at Newark, Koala kept asking me who the green man holding a book was. Lucky the border control takes so long because I could not figure out what the eff he was talking about. Then I looked up at one of the monitors and saw the Statue of Liberty imprinted… then I did that dramatic movie turnaround and saw she was everywhere… so I taught him about the Statue of Liberty. Sure enough, as we got to the elevators, there she was, a real statue, and Koala – who happened to be in his, yes, green jumpsuit, stood proudly imitating her.

So we went. She was kind of a theme of the trip.

Including upskirt.

More city.

When you have a Grandpa from Florida.

Heels in Israel, heart in Staten Island

Not over how odd it is to live in the Middle East and watch your North American hometown get knocked around by the Universe.

[Hylan Boulevard is a river… I used to cruise along Hylan for Staten Island Advance assignments…] 

For the past week, my heels have been in Israel, but my heart is in Staten Island. The forgotten New York City borough. I wish I could pick up and fly over and help people sort through their property… hand out warm clothes… pack food packages. Alas, it’s not to be, and all I can do is call my mother a few times a day and make a donation online and hope it helps.

Isn’t it supposed to be the opposite?

Thinking of my family and friends and neighbors in Staten Island, lower Manhattan, Queens, Connecticut, New Jersey, Long Island, north of NYC…

There are probably tons of lists, but if you got here, this is a selection of online donation spots and volunteer mobilization [UPDATED Nov 6]:

  • Staten Island Assemblyman Matthew Titone’s Amazon Wishlist – purchase items directly c/o the assemblyman, who is taking care to deliver them to Staten Islanders in need (other local groups in NYC listed here).
  • Red Cross Disaster Relief – The American Red Cross response to Sandy is very large and will be very costly, affecting a massive area spanning much of the eastern half of the country. Financial donations help the American Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by disasters like Hurricane Sandy. To donate, people can visit www.redcross.org, call 1-800-HELPNOW or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.
  • The Salvation Army Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts
  • Jewish Federation of North America: Hurricane Relief Fund
  • Tablet has a comprehensive list for helping schools, communities, social services, and blood donation centers.
  • Brooklyn Based also has a long list of links for volunteering/donating.
  • JCORPS volunteering and events.
  • LBNY Hurricane spreadsheet for donations and mobilizing volunteers.
Plus Israeli local efforts by expats:

There are also local efforts by stores, companies and newspapers… Pretty much a matter of Googling it.

Thinking of my hometown. If you know of more online donation efforts, please leave in comments.

We’ll always have Jew York…

A new study’s findings on the Jewish demographic(s) in New York City is challenging some long-held assumptions/notions regarding… Jews in New York.

Specifically:

“The study… challenges the entrenched image of Jews as liberal, affluent and well educated. Over the last decade wealthy, Ivy League graduates like those on the Upper West Side have increasingly lost population share relative to Orthodox groups, like the Hasidic population in Brooklyn, where college degrees are rare and poverty rates have reached 43 percent.” (NYTimes)

Some fun frum and not-so-frum facts:

  • After a decline, it seems Jews are on the upswing, and (not shockingly) the numbers hike is attributed to the Orthodox/Ultra-Orthodox populations.
  • New York area’s Jewish population is (still) the largest outside of Israel. One-third of the entire American Jewish population is located in that area.
  • The numbers: 40% of NYC Jews identify as Orthodox, up from 33% a decade ago. 74% of NYC Jewish children are Orthodox.
  • The less observant are becoming even more less observant. The Conservative and Reform counts are in decline.
  • Unsurprisingly, the Orthodox communities tend to lean to the right on political issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and how Israel handles Palestinians.
  • 316,000 Jews on Long Island and 136,000 in Westchester. Combining the eight counties makes for 1.54 million Jews, up 10% from 10 years ago.
  • Less affiliated Jewish children are less likely to be attending any sort of Jewish structure, while at the same time, overall, more local Jewish kids are going to Hebrew day schools or yeshivas. About 50% of Jews ages 18 to 34 in the area had gone to those types of schools, whereas it was only 16% of their parents/ages 55 to 69.
  • Intermarriage is hanging tight at 22%, but has increased specifically in the less affiliated.
  • 12% of Jewish households include a non-white person, often from adoption or intermarriage.

Nothing about this is shocking. It makes me a bit worried though. I didn’t ‘flee’ New York per say, but I’ve had trouble understanding how modern Orthodoxy can sustain itself in this type of environment. As people get pulled to the left and right, to the unaffiliated to the fundamentally affiliated, what’s left for those of us who want to practice traditional Jewish lives?

Leaving New York City.

I returned on Tuesday from a trip to New York. It was a family visit with some work mixed in, and it came at a time when I was starting to feel a bit… hungry for New York. Not homesick, per say, but just in the mood.

I don’t know if it happens to all olim who travel back frequently, or if it’s just me, but this trip was different. Usually, I let myself fantasize, considering all the pros and cons of moving back to New York City and then tally them up, leading me to feel a bit sad coming back to Israel. Not that I would have wanted to return necessarily, but it’s a feeling of being torn in two directions.

Wouldn’t my job be so much more fun in NYC? I’d have the best ice cream flavors to choose from. The little things are so much cheaper – hell, the bigger things are so much cheaper, too. Bookstores stocked with an endless English supply. Customer service!

This time – I dunno. The cons kept stacking up. The ads on TV. The amount of choices in the supermarket. The crowds of people. The stories in the news. The politics. The elevator coldness. The avoiding eye contact.

It seems like everything is so much more complicated than it has to be. I think I’ve seriously decomplicated my life, living here in Israel.

Then there is always that one major complication I’ve created, making life endlessly harder – leaving my family and creating a situation of long distance relationships to live by.

I’m still dealing with that one. I think I always will be.

Who needs aliyah?

Why bother making aliyah from New York City? In the span of four days, I’ve managed to:

  1. pass the Holon Grocery,
  2. find a metapelet originating from Ein Karem,
  3. drive behind a טוב טעם truck.

What’s next?

Also, I suppose it’s logical that my son’s first exposure to fast food was today in his American daycare (despite the Israeli nanny). It hurts my heart. But it was going to happen eventually.

Drama of a dual citizen.

A key element of being a dual citizen is the dual drama.

I always get homesick with these bouts of New York City drama:

Investigators believe all passengers and crew, more than 150 people, survive a plane crashing into New York’s Hudson River.

I prefer NYC drama to the Israel brand these days…

Report: Israel, Hamas agree on 2-week truce

Israel says killed Hamas interior minister

False alarm sounds in Jerusalem

Glad to hear the US Airways passengers and crew are safe. Looking forward to hearing from the pilot.

Hoping for the safety of Israeli and Palestinian citizens.

Hoping for it all to end.

The twisted mind of an expat.

I’m in New York City for the next three weeks.

On one stretch,  between my office on 35th to the bus on 42nd, I hear not one – not two – but three Hebrew conversations.

I get on the bus, there’s a six pack of hard lemonade in my seat; former passenger leftovers. I drop everything and carry  it over to the bus driver. Then I walk back to my seat and feel guilty that if it’s laced with explosives, I just killed him.

Yeah, that never gets old.