Sandy Thoughts

Adapted from what I shared with my congregation this afternoon:

The devastation that has unfolded back East in the wake of Hurricane Sandy is heartbreaking. The coming weeks will see the ongoing struggles to clean up and restore the normalcy of the past.

Like most of you, I spent yesterday and today reaching out to family and friends and checking that they were okay. Thankfully, they all weathered the night without incident beyond falling trees and the loss of power. It was fascinating reading my Facebook feed yesterday. Some posters, especially, but not exclusively, younger ones, lamented the loss of their cable television with the reaction as if the roof had sheared off Others, recognized what truly mattered in these moments and could separate the short-term inconveniences from the life altering possibilities.

Hearing about the staff of NYU Medical Center carrying almost 300 patients down the stairs with only flashlights to guide them reminds us of what really matters. Among the patients transferred in the storm were 20 newborns in the NICU.

Watching the footage of coastal communities fleeing the oncoming storm taking only their family’s hands reminds us of what really matters. Or learning about the boys, ages 11 and 13, who were killed in Westchester when a tree fell on their house reminds us of what really matters.

Or the 14 people rescued by the Coast Guard helicopter from the HMS Bounty. Or the giant crane dangling 80 stories over a Manhattan street. Or the flooded streets of New York City and Atlantic City and Ocean City and everywhere. Or the millions who won’t have power or effective transportation for a week or much longer. And on and on. Such a moment in time truly reminds us of what really matters. And it isn’t the cable going out.

Check in with your family and friends – an email, text, Facebook message, or call cuts through their isolation whenever they can receive it. Consider giving blood or donating to the American Red Cross. Donate through the Reform Movement’s Hurricane Fund that helps Reform Jewish communities and many others devastated by the storm or similar organizations.

And remember: Times like this help us recognize what truly matters. Make the most of the recognition.

Argo – No Spoilers

One of the joys of the movies is ignorance. Sometimes the less you know the better off you are. So this is a spoiler free (I hope) review of Argo. I won’t even use one of the great lines of the film that fits well into a blog just out of consideration for you.

Here’s 7 things to know (since there are 7 key people in…oh I say too much):

1. It’s based on a true story. But stop learning about the story and go in with a little knowledge as possible.

2. The 70s were full of drinking, chain smoking, ugly cars, big lapels, poor means of reaching people by phone, and grainy footage – all wonderfully recreated for the film.

3. Ben Affleck is not a stupendous director. But he makes eminently watchable, enjoyable, and tense films (Gone Baby Gone, The Town, and this).

4. This was the best film I have seen so far in 2012 and is a lock for a Best Picture nomination. It might even win.

5. Alan Arkin is ridiculously great in this.

6. John Goodman and Bryan Cranston are pretty excellent too. But not Arkin-good.

7. The film is tense ALL THE TIME.

Go see it. It is fun, enjoyable, dramatic, original, and well-worth it. Plus there is a deluge of seemingly great films coming. Get a jump on it and go see Argo ahead of the rest.