New York after the storm
By Jennifer Lipman
November 16, 2012
I filled the My Week slot this week with a piece recalling my trip to Manhattan after the hurricane hit, and during election week. All told, an interesting time to be there.
● I'm on holiday in Manhattan and Sunday starts with a time-honoured New York tradition - a leisurely brunch with friends. We have booked at a place in the Village, and despite being without electricity for days thanks to Hurricane Sandy, the restaurant is up and running by the weekend.
● Walking in downtown Manhattan, although not as far as the flooded areas, it is clear the storm has had a serious effect. The streets are eerily quiet, with the papers filled with stories of misery and miracle, people charging phones at pop-up sites in parks, and bars advertising post-Sandy reopening dates. Dismayed runners from various countries are jogging all over the city, the annual city marathon having been cancelled at the 11th hour. A friend who helped clean up the worst hit areas reports over Shabbat lunch how gefilte fish was handed out to the needy by Orthodox Jews. We try to imagine how desperate we'd have to be to feast on what was once a staple heimishe delicacy.
● Later, we head to Broadway for a play about evangelical Christians falling from grace. The superb production stars Paul Rudd, of Clueless fame. In an amusing twist, Alicia Silverstone, his co-star in the film - much of which I can still quote - is appearing in another show on the very same street. At 36, with a son called Bear Blu, she still looks and sounds exactly as she did in her days as Jewish princess Cher Horowitz.
● With the subway still not fully operational, we spend much of the week walking around, heading to Aroma on the Upper West Side on Monday for a spot of lunch in the company of iPad- and Mac-toting hipsters. The espresso bar is part of an American invasion by Israeli eateries; downtown, Max Brenner's chocolate factory-inspired restaurants are also popular.
● Tuesday brings the presidential election, with the Rockefeller Center lit up in red and blue, with podiums on either side ready to be raised as the electoral college results come in. Four years ago, a friend and I stayed up until the early hours to watch Obama claim victory; this year, I am at an election party organised by a left-leaning youth foundation. It is like Purim - every time Romney's name comes up on the big screen, people boo and hiss, no matter whether he has just lost a state. After the result is called, we dash to Times Square, where frenzied crowds of both locals and tourists are gathering, shouting variations on "Oh-Ba-Mah" and "Four More Years". Amid the hubbub, my fiancé manages to earn a spot dispensing wisdom about the election for a Kenyan television channel.
● After a week of post-hurricane calm but cold, Wednesday brings a snow storm, in which I learn just how challenging it can be to flag down a cab in Manhattan. But an autumnal Central Park, all vivid reds and oranges, is beautiful with an additional white coating. As we bid goodbye to the city, the streets are already clear of snow - a reminder that New York and its citizens are ever resilient. Back in London for Shabbat, I am entertained and well-fed at the homes of two of my three sisters. Saturday afternoon is spent in the company of my grandpa and my adorable nephew, who at two months old is rapidly becoming the focal point of any family gathering. All in all, a lovely end to a fabulous week.
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