I would like to wish everyone a joyous holiday season.
It has been a pleasure representing you this year as your Nassau County Legislator. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you and to meet so many wonderful people throughout the 18th Legislative District in the process.
Usually around this time, there are many complaints about how the holiday season has become too commercialized and people are too focused on getting gifts to appreciate the real meaning of the holidays, but I wonder if those criticisms are warranted on Long Island this year.
The power at North Shore Synagogue was restored relatively early in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and immediately NSS became a warming center and shelter for the entire community. The outpouring of help from congregants, volunteers, lay leaders and suppliers was swift and without hesitation. NSS extends its deepest thanks and appreciation to all who helped.
As a lad growing up in the East Bronx, I carried an Albatross around my neck. Like the Ancient Mariner, I had committed an unpardonable sin. My sin: I rooted for the Brooklyn Dodgers, while living in the Bronx. All those Yankee lovers chose to make my life miserable.
What seemed like every year (except for 1955), the Yankees embarrassed the Dodgers in the World Series. It was difficult to walk the streets without being hooted at by some DiMaggio, Henrich or Charlie Keller fan. I just did what they said to do in the musical, The King and I: “I just held my head up high and whistled a happy tune.”
My wife and I are currently spending our eighth winter on Longboat Key, which is on Florida’s west coast near Sarasota. Most of my mornings start on Whitney Beach across from where we stay. When the beach is bird-rich, a big morning can start soon after you set foot on the sand. This was what it was like one day last winter.
The first bird I see is a great blue heron swooping very low across the sand toward a gray and salmon colored horizon. The heron lands near a person who is looking for shells. The blue seems to be waiting for throwaways, apparently having mistaken the shell collector for a fisherman. Realizing no meal is forthcoming, the hungry heron quickly leaves.
Continuing our voyage on the Adriatic Sea, next was the alluring peninsula of Split on the Dalmatian coast. Split is the second largest city in Croatia. The history of Split must include the Emperor Diocletian. He took power in 284 AD and stepped down in 305 AD. Emperor Diocletian built a large walled palace in the Roman style with an aqueduct, which is still in use. The town today is a paradise for tourists. Split joined Croatia when the Yugoslavian state broke up in 1991. The beautiful port of Split was built along the easily defended and finest harbor in the Adriatic.
When our cruise ship arrived in Malta, there were no signs of Humphrey Bogart, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet or the Maltese Falcon. Malta is a limestone-walled city, sitting proudly in the southern Mediterranean. It is Malta’s location, not its size that dictates its importance. You might have trouble locating Malta on a map, but its history is written in large letters.
Valletta, the capital of Malta, was built by the Order of the Knights of St. John. It has two deep channels that accommodate large vessels. The history of Malta dates back 7,000 years. Malta was conquered by the Arabs, Normans, Germans, French and Spaniards. It was also an important Crusader outpost.
In the wake of one of the most devastating incidents in Long Island’s history, I wanted to pay tribute to some of the local businesses and institutions that helped make two weeks without electricity more bearable.
Jericho Public Library: Reopened its doors literally hours after getting power restored, and offered plug-ins, WiFi, TV, coffee and cookies to the community. Remember to vote an enthusiastic “yes” the next time the library budget comes up to vote.
I still remember watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade as a small child. One year, I asked my mother why the parade closed with Santa Claus—after all, Santa Claus was not part of Thanksgiving! The mixing of holidays seemed almost criminal to me.
My mother gently explained that Thanksgiving was the start of the holiday season, the countdown to Christmas and Hanukkah. I didn’t realize it then, but that “countdown” comes with a kind of implied menace: get everybody great presents before your holiday of choice rolls around…or else (and if you celebrate Hanukkah start your engines, because you have about five minutes.) For better and for worse, I’ve never had a huge number of people to buy for this time of year, but even I feel the pressure.
“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln
This is one of my favorite quotes that I often repeat. During my experiences, I have met individuals who have gained power and used it to make a positive difference, help others, and make themselves true leaders. I have also encountered those who let the power go to their heads and used it in a bad manner. Therefore, I consider this statement from Lincoln to be truly sage advice that I often refer to, and with a movie about the 16th President now showing in movie theaters, it is also timely.
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