It is very quiet in my part of Brooklyn, New York today. I just heard a truck rumble by, but no cars, no subway trains (an outdoor line, the Brighton line B and Q trains, run on an elevated tracks a few streets away from me). No airplanes, no barking dogs. Why? Because there has been a very large snow fall in our region. The northeastern states of the US have been pummeled, to varying degrees, by snow and winds. It began yesterday during the daytime, grew heavier at night, and is still continuing right now at 11:30AM.

I have mixed feelings about such considerable snow. The "Snowpocalypse" or "Snowmageddon" that was hyped widely by all the local and national media has made a considerable dent on our environment, but is not unmanageable. Having stated that, we New Yorkers have been asked to go on the road only for necessary reasons, and the subway trains were closed down for several hours, only now getting back up. No one seems to be driving near me, although it is wise to start the car engines at some point. I expect soon I will hear the scrape of shovel to snow, ice and pavement.

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Right now the snow is pretty, and it is remarkably quiet outside. This is a respite for our senses, ordinarily subjected to noises and grime. It is an appropriate time to reflect on nature, for instance. How much Mother Nature can impact our lives, even if we think we control the world.


And it is also time to reflect on the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. Hard to believe that in 1945, so many of our Jewish brothers and sisters were dying in various horrifying ways, in such a streamlined process. Yet some survived this most notorious of death camps, and we commemorate this day. A ceremony took place there, with returning survivors and family members, and world leaders (although not President Obama, which I think is not proper) to remind the world that this should never, ever happen again.

I traveled to Auschwitz late in the summer of 1998, and I recall how quiet it was in many parts. Although it was a warm, sunny day when I went, it was eerily quiet. And it aided my personal reflection on what had transpired here, decades earlier.

Today it is quiet in Brooklyn (oops, I now hear someone shoveling their walk). School was cancelled for students. Many workplaces are closed today. I think it is quite appropriate that we have been given this parcel of quiet time, time spent at home, to reflect upon how fortunate we are to live in a place and time where shoveling snow is our biggest gripe of the day. It is fitting to take time to reflect on the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. It is fitting to take time today, and think about how cruel people can be to each other. Then take time to think about how each one of us can make this world a better place. Shovel the walk for an elderly neighbor. Help someone who needs assistance.

It is a quiet day today in Brooklyn.

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