As a writer on human rights issues I don’t lack reasons for concern. In many countries nowadays human rights continue in some form are not abused, where violence does not strike in one of its multiple forms. At such moments, I visit one of the many neighborhoods outside Manhattan, where I live, and where the change of locale can do wonders for my mood.
One of my favorite places is Brighton Beach, a community in Coney Island in the borough of Brooklyn, a subway ride away from Manhattan. In summer, I go to the boardwalk, sit in front of the sea and the salt breeze energizes me. When it gets colder, I visit one of the many ethnic stores and delight in their variety. When my appetite is in full force I go to one of the many restaurants in the area to savor food unlike what I eat at home every day.
The area is now populated mainly by Jewish immigrants that left the former Soviet Union starting in the 1970’s and whose influx continues today. Years ago, the area was dubbed “Little Odessa”, since many of its residents came from Odessa, a city in the Ukraine. I remember the welcome surprise of a friend – with whom I was having dinner at one of the local Ukrainian restaurants – when he realized how many patrons came from his parents’ hometown.
More recently, new waves of immigrants have joined the Russians and Ukrainians: Chinese, Vietnamese, Armenian, Turkish, Mexican and Pakistanis make of this an even more cosmopolitan neighborhood. During the summer, people from other…