New York, Nu York: Busy September in NYC

New York City is the city that never sleeps; that motto is derived from the 1970s Frank Sinatra hit "New York, New York." And lately NYC has seen so much activity that it is dizzying. Pope Francis came and visited a number of sites in Manhattan; the United Nations 70th General Assembly is in full force, with world leaders taking the stage and traffic jams snarling midtown. The Mets baseball team has clinched its first division championship in many years (and we fans are hoping they will go all the way to the World series) while the Yankees are pinning their hopes on the "wild card" game as their way to the World Series. The Liberty, the women's pro basketball team, had their best season in years but just lost a Conference championship (alas!). So there have been many exciting things going on here, and they are particular to our city. "The Five Boroughs" certainly have taken center stage in the world's eye in many ways.
But many New Yorkers also took part in a wonderful and wondrous activity that kept much of the world spellbound: witnessing the Blood Moon on Sunday, September 27. And while the NYC skies were cloudy, that did not stop countless New Yorkers and other citizens of the world from gazing toward the heavens.
For many people, the highly unusual lunar eclipse that night was a good opportunity to take photographs. For teachers and scientists around the world, it was a chance to encourage students to see science as a living, breathing process. For journalists it was a big story to cover. But I also viewed it as a time for people to connect while "oohing and aahing" over a rare, beautiful natural phenomenon.
In our family's case, we stood outside with two sets of binoculars, mine and my father's old pair from his Army days. And while we stood out on the sidewalk in front of our house, we would gaze at the moon appearing and disappearing, glowing and clouding up. But we did so while talking with neighbors and strangers, people we know well and passers-by. We were all brought together by curiosity and the desire to be part of something bigger, in fact, much bigger than ourselves. We were part of history but we also brought the event to our own homes. It was global and local, both at once.
Secular and religious Jews, non-Jews and Jews, young and old, we were all attracted to the same thing. And it was both a passive experience, looking on without having the power to manipulate anything, but also active because we stood around and talked and speculated and surmised.
In some ways it was a religious experience, and one could certainly be in awe of God's majesty. It was also a highly secular experience, a scientific experience, a historical and even cultural experience. Anyone could enjoy it, and it did not cost a cent to do so.
It was one of the most wonderful things I have seen in ages, and I truly feel that I was part of the world community. I was not just a New Yorker that night, but a resident of the world. We could all enjoy and learn at the same time. Think carefully about that!