We’re all living under a constant barrage of negative news, so I feel compelled to write this post, inspired by my colleague—Rabbi Levi Avtzon—who wrote 10 reasons he loves living in South Africa. Despite the covid restrictions and the huge number of people fleeing, I love this city. Here’s why:
1. There are literally tens of thousands of Jews on the Upper East Side alone. And despite news reports of thousands of people leaving the city, there remain more Jews living in Manhattan than I could possibly meet in my lifetime! For a Chabad rabbi, this is a gold mine. So many people to help, so many mitzvot to accomplish, so much opportunity, so much potential. Where do I even begin?!
2. The vibrancy of this city is unparalleled. Yes, Broadway, Times Square, and other iconic spots are shut down and desolate, but the city that never sleeps still bustles. The action, the energy … it’s palpable just walking down the street. I absorb this energy every day, and it propels me to connect with others and keep doing the work I moved here to do.
3. There are enough shuls in the neighborhood, probably at least 25 just on the Upper East Side, that you can take your pick. Try a different one every day of the month. Not thrilled with one rabbi? Move on to the next. Kiddush not to your liking? Just hop on over to the next shul. Even now, with COVID, you can find the minyan that works best for you.
4. Manhattan is home to some of the finest kosher restaurants in the world, and they have gone to great lengths to remain accessible. Whatever you’re craving—meat, dairy, Israeli, Morrocan, fast food, fine dining, breakfast cafe—this city has it. I love to treat myself to the occasional cappuccino and Manhattan has the best one I’ve ever tasted.
5. This city is a hub of kindness and caring. Despite the stereotypes, New Yorkers do care and help each other. They may be a bit more abrupt than Wisconsinites, for example, but that’s just the packaging. The help is real and sincere. Walk into any hospital in this city and you will see chessed rooms and bikur cholim volunteers ready to provide you with virtually anything you need.
6. We have Central Park, an oasis in a city of brick and steel, smog and noise. And no matter what time of day you get there, you won’t be alone. I love starting my day at 5am with a run, and there are plenty of others up and running at that crazy hour, too. Its natural beauty never wanes, and I never tire of it. It vitalizes my day.
7. No one here is apathetic. New York Jews are passionate, opinionated, and always ready for debate. This kind of thinking sharpens the mind and creates the perfect vessel to study and analyze the intricacies of the Talmud.
8. New Yorkers are unusually hard working. Whether from home or the office or on vacation, they put in the hours and rise steadily. It’s a motivating environment to be in every day.
9. New York Jews are extremely charitable. Despite the economic downturn, New York remains the financial center of the world, and philanthropy continues. In fact, it may have even increased during this trying time, as people go to great lengths to assist those struggling due to COVID.
10. I’ve saved my favorite for last: Manhattan sits shoulder-to-shoulder with Brooklyn, home of Chabad Headquarters, where the Rebbe inspired his followers to move all over the world in service of others. And the Ohel, theRebbe’s resting place in Queens, is just a 30-minute drive from my house. Whenever I need an infusion of inspiration, I jump in my car and go there to pray. It works wonders!
Now tell me your ten reasons that make you love your life!