Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


A Prayer for the City

Faith in a place with no lights

Print Email
A Street View of Manhattan Following Hurricane Sandy(Getty)

There was no point going to the office today. The city’s transit systems are shut down and so we advised everyone to work from home. I ventured outside, for the first time in almost 24 hours, to go to minyan and found that, aside from a number of small trees that had been uprooted, life on the Upper West Side seemed quite normal. We had not lost power in our apartment building and suffered no ill effects from the storm.

At mid-afternoon, my sister arrived with her son. She lives at 23rd Street and Second Avenue and had lost power the night before. She and her son had walked uptown from their home, anxious to re-charge their phones and go online. They stayed for the afternoon, joined us for dinner, and then at 8 P.M., I offered to drive them home.

That was when my day turned surreal.

I headed down the West Side Highway and, once past 34th Street, entered Manhattan’s blacked-out area. Shockingly, during the rest of my journey, I encountered virtually no police presence. Traffic lights were out and, in the darkness, our lives depended on the kindness of strangers as I inched through intersection after unattended intersection. I turned left on 24th Street and began crossing Manhattan, block by block, ofttimes in almost total darkness.

Once I got over the shock that police had not been stationed at each intersection, I was dumbfounded that there had been no attempt to place temporary stop signs at the corners or to position some kind of temporary lighting, such as one sees illuminating nighttime road work. Each block was a challenge as I waited for a break in the up or downtown flow of the avenues to allow me to cross.

Aside from the dangers at the intersections, it seemed like the total lack of police presence on the darkened streets was an invitation to looting. I suppose I should cut the city some slack–perhaps the police are still preoccupied with those who have been driven from their homes or with areas that are flooded–but to drive completely across Manhattan, in virtual darkness, seeing almost all of lower Manhattan blacked out and seemingly unpoliced, was an experience I will not soon forget, and which I hope the city will survive, unscathed.

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

A Prayer for the City

Faith in a place with no lights

More on Tablet:

Why the Teenage Girls of Europe Are Joining ISIS

By Lee Smith — Because they want the same things that teenage boys want: a strong sense of meaning and purpose