Today was an eye-opening one, as we visited some of the beautiful scenery that New York City has to offer.
To begin the day, we took the subway to Battery Park to discuss the interesting concept of the American Dream. Most Americans would agree that it consists of upward social mobility along with an opportunity to succeed economically. We discussed whether or not everyone has the opportunity to achieve the American Dream. Afterwards we talked about Ellis Island and its importance. During the 1800s, religious persecution and deteriorating economic conditions led to a mass migration of our ancestors, mostly from Northern and Western Europe, to the United States. Ellis Island was known to be the gateway to the United States for those immigrants, searching for a better life with more opportunity in a “Golden land.” Once our immigrant ancestors arrived at Ellis Island, we learned that they would have to pass an inspection that determined whether or not they carried diseases, as well as many other obstacles. It was interesting to hear Billy talk about ways that Jews were able to get around these obstacles and give themselves a chance to succeed in their new land.
After this conversation, we walked over to the famous and powerful Wall Street. Home to the New York Stock Exchange, this area is known to be the world’s largest intersection of economic trade. We talked about how Wall Street represents the core of our economy and the global economy, as well as stimulates or depresses economic growth.
We then walked to Zucotti Park, where we learned about the Occupy Movement that caused widespread attention to issues of income inequality. It turns out that one of our counselors, Sam Forman, was actually part of that protest movement. Sam spoke to us about the movement, which was against economic and social disparities between the rich and the poor.
Subsequently, we began our discussion about 9/11 and we were asked to share our memories of that day. I remembered that after 9/11 the sky was sort of an eerie calm because all of the flights had been canceled. We then continued to the 9/11 memorial site, where we saw where the twin towers once stood and took our time to pay our respects to those who perished.
It was then time for lunch, where I was able to enjoy a nice burger to help soothe my stomach. After, we headed back to the hotel and had a chunk of free time to relax and take a nap.
Then to conclude the day we attended Shabbat services at B’nai Jeshurun, a conservative synagogue in the Upper West Side, and later ate dinner at a Kosher Deli, which had great matzoh ball soup. It was definitely a day to remember, and I look forward to the rest of our stay in beautiful New York City.