Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement, begins tonight at sundown. Tonight, people will recite the Kol Nidre, an Aramaic prayer that asks God, "May all the people of Israel be forgiven, including all the strangers who live in their midst, for all the people are in fault." It is a haunting, beautiful prayer, which can be heard here. As a society, there is a lot to atone for this year, as every year. My top priority is the chasm between the rich and everyone else. I was particularly struck by this last night, when Husband and I received an appraisal for our apartment. (We are refinancing.)
We've lived in our place for almost nine years. In the time, the value has increased by more than 200%. In theory, I should be jumping for joy, but I'm actually appalled. When we went to buy a place, we stretched a little, but it was at least feasible. We could never do that now. I don't understand how anyone can.
Decades ago, my neighborhood was a little microcosm of society. There were wealthy people on Central Park West, middle class people on the side streets, and mixed in with that were single room occupancy (SRO) buildings and halfway houses. My former boss lived in a brownstone on Columbus and 85th Street in the late 1980s, and across the street was a crack den. Homeless people lit trash fires to warm themselves at night. I'm not saying I want the crack dens back, but a studio apartment in that building now rents for $2000 per month and renters have to show the landlord that their yearly income is 40 times that amount before they can sign a lease. It's a rich people ghetto and it's morally wrong.
This whole situation is unsustainable. The real estate market is a house of cards. The only way to keep price up is to have inflated salaries in certain industries, like legal, banking, and medicine. But as a whole, we can't afford that and we should not have to mortgage the future of the country so that an elite class can afford a one bedroom apartment on the ground floor facing the street if they stretch a bit. It's sick.
I won't be attending services for Yom Kippur. However, I will be hoping that not only are my family and friends inscribed in the Book of Life this year, but that some true miracle will happen and this nation will wake up and say that everyone deserves an equal shot at more than merely breathing.
Gmar chatima tova.