September 15, 2017

Begin Again

Begin Again

We’re only halfway through September, but already I’m seeing a theme. The theme is rebuilding and renewal. Normally, these are the hallmarks of spring, not fall. But that’s not the way it seems to be turning out this year.

So far this month, we’ve had to start picking up the pieces from not one but two devastating hurricanes. Harvey and Irma left millions of people and businesses in Texas and Florida without roofs over their heads. But would you believe that, amidst all the destruction, the housing market in Houston is booming??? Houston is known as one of the most affordable housing markets in the country, and not even a category 5 hurricane can shut it down. In fact, the New York Times reported this week that homeowners were getting bids and closing deals as they floated their possessions on air mattresses out of their homes. Buyers figure they’ll just raise the surviving structures and build new ones higher. What hurricane?

I have no doubt that those walloped by Hurricane Irma will do the same. Power is slowly being restored, offices are reopening (Marcum’s West Palm Beach and Miami offices are back online, and Ft. Lauderdale should be up and running Monday), supermarkets are restocking, and the cleanup has begun.

It will likely take years to completely come back from the billions of dollars in damage that occurred across the South and Southeast. But it’s not even a question that eventually the areas that were literally underwater last week will be fully restored and revitalized. It happened in New Orleans after Katrina, and it happened in New York and New Jersey after Sandy. It will happen again!

The ultimate rebuild of them all – linked forever to the month of September – is the World Trade Center in New York City, which also encompasses the 9-11 Memorial and Museum. There is no greater symbol of how willing and able we Americans are to build fresh from the ruins of total devastation. Whether at the whim of Nature or the evil of pure hatred, knock us down and we’ll get back up.

By the way, if you haven’t visited lower Manhattan recently, do yourself a favor and go. Not only is it a marvel of architecture and engineering, it’s loaded with great restaurants, culture, shopping, and activity that make it one of the hippest, most exciting places in New York, if not the country. And the 9-11 Memorial and Museum is a true sight to behold. It’s one of the few places I’ve been which is dedicated to the memory of people who perished in a tragedy that occurred during many of our lifetimes.

Facing down hate is also an undercurrent on the Internet this month, via a video that has been viewed more than 41 million times so far. Canadian politician Jagmeet Singh was being verbally abused by a racist heckler at a rally (the heckler erroneously attacked Mr. Singh, who is a Sikh, for being Muslim). Refusing to be intimidated, he responded to the woman by literally welcoming her “with love and courage.” He just kept repeating the message until she gave up and left. It’s quite an amazing response to virulent hatred directed squarely, and loudly, right at you. We can only hope that the video lands in the Facebook accounts of our world leaders. Wouldn’t it be great if they could take a hint and try to get it right this time?

Which brings us to the Jewish New Year, a September rite of renewal. The New Year period this year is a 10-day stretch beginning with Rosh Hashanah, at sundown on September 20, and concluding with the Yom Kippur fast, ending at sundown September 30. It is a time when those who observe the holiday symbolically cast away their sins, accumulated over the prior year, and rededicate themselves to living a principled life in the forthcoming year. Renewal and rebuilding at its best.

For those of you who observe, may you have a sweet New Year. I will not be writing next week since Friday falls on Rosh Hashanah. Look for my next column on September 29 (right under the wire before Yom Kippur).

Enjoy the weekend, everyone!

PS. I had dinner Wednesday night with my two older children, Isaac (25) and Leo (22). In addition to the normal father-son banter over dinner, the subject of my blog came up, and they asked what this week’s posting would be about, a top secret subject known only to me and my editor, Julie Gelfand, until publication time every Friday morning. In order to end the subject quickly (since I’d never tell), I told them I was writing about them, which they summarily dismissed as not at all possible. Well boys, it’s about you!