We arrived in New York City in the late afternoon and checked into our hotel. After freshening up a bit, we got on the bus and journeyed to the Meadowlands to see Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen. When we arrived, we realized that our seats were a little less than perfect. They were facing a wall on the side of the stage. But we dispersed throughout the stadium to find better views. Some of us headed down to the first row on the side where we found ourselves within feet of Bruce as he ran around the stage. This event was much anticipated by Billy who idolizes Bruce, and all of us really had an amazing time. It was an awesome concert.
We awoke the next morning to the peaceful honking and sirens of the city. We grabbed bagels from H & H and headed to the Jewish Heritage Museum. The tour consisted mostly of basic things we were already familiar with, but it was adequate.
After the tour, we ate some delicious New York City pizza, and then caught a ferry to Ellis Island. We passed by the Statue of Liberty and then landed on the island. We were given time to walk around and explore the museum and learn about the hardships our ancestors had to face to come to this country. Some of us found our relatives on the wall of immigrants. It was an emotional experience.
When we arrived back at Battery Park, we traveled to Ground Zero. There were mixed feelings regarding this experience. To me, this site served as a reminder of the terror I felt, the terror the nation felt on that fateful day. I flashed back to the morning of the attacks and remembered just how fast our lives can change. None of the victims knew they would wake up on September 11th, 2001, and that would be their last day on Earth. I thought about this and so much more in those five minutes at the site. Emotions were flying.
We were all extremely tired from the previous days, so we went back to the hotel for some good relaxation. It was a nice two hours. Then it was time for Friday night services. We went to B’nai Jeshrun, where most of us had an amazing experience. The unity we saw among the congregants was amazing. The synagogue was packed. Everyone was dancing to the music and all looked like they really wanted to be there. Dinner was eaten at the 2nd Avenue Kosher Deli in the East Village. The food was great and the sandwiches were gigantic. We were then allowed some time on St. Marks Place to browse some of the funky shops they had. It was interesting to see all the different people walking down the loud streets of the Village. Then it was off to bed!
The next morning we were allowed to sleep in which was an extremely refreshing experience. We ate brunch and then walked over to Central Park, which was celebrating its 150th anniversary. We hung out in the park for a few hours by the water. It was very peaceful despite the crowds. We left the park and jumped on the subway. We walked through Chinatown, Little Italy, and the Lower East Side. It was interesting to see how you can turn down one street in Chinatown and find yourself in Little Italy, and then turn again and you’re in the Lower East Side. It was a cultural afternoon.
We went to our meeting with Refuse and Resist, an activist group. We were all in agreement that the group possessed a lot of anger regarding certain issues, but had no concrete solutions. Still, it was interesting to listen to their opinions. Then we got to go to the West Village, one of my favorite places in the city. We split up, walked around the Village, and ate dinner. I absolutely loved that area.
After about an hour, it was time to head to Time Square to see Urinetown. I am a HUGE Broadway fan so of course I loved the show. It was incredible. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack religiously ever since. Then we took a walk around Time Square. It was so crowded with people the crowd was almost at a standstill. We passed the theater that featured the Broadway show Gypsy, which is the show I most want to see; with the actress I would do anything to see. So that was an awesome building to pass by. We also got to see Rockefeller Center, which was hard to recognize without the skating rink.
We got on the subway and half of us went back to the hotel, but the other half went out. We went to the famous restaurant featured on Seinfeld to drink some of the most delicious milkshakes in the country. Then we walked around Columbia University for a little bit. It was getting late so we went back to the hotel and went to sleep.
We woke up and ate bagels for breakfast again. They were very good, as usual. We then toured the United Nations where we learned how this multi-national organization helps solve international crises and helps under developed countries grow. It was very interesting to see the rooms where many of the talks regarding the situation in Iraq that we see in the news take place. Then it was time to leave the city. New York was such an enjoyable experience, and one of my favorite stops on this trip.