(New York Jewish Week) — You definitely don’t want to have what she was having at that moment.
It was December, on a Friday. I was in the tunnel that leads to the subway that runs beneath the American Museum of Natural History on West 81st St. Walking just ahead of me were two women, chatting with each other. I didn’t know them, but I watched as a man, disheveled and bearded, wearing a black knit cap with a sparkly “NYC” on it, came from the other direction. He veered a little too close to the taller of the two. Suddenly, he shifted and grabbed her from behind.
I often wondered what I would do in this situation. Standing only steps away, I no longer had to wonder. After a moment’s hesitation, I sprang into action, grabbing the man and pulling him off her. Then the woman, her friend and I hightailed it through the turnstiles. All in a New York minute.
The woman said she was OK, just worried her attacker would hurt other women. I called 911 but the operator could only speak in subway platforms, not quite grasping it occurred under the museum. How could a visitor be expected to explain the location? And why was there no attendant or police patrol in one of New York’s most visited neighborhoods? I happen to be getting a PhD in tourism studies at Purdue University, but it’s a no-brainer how bad that is for visitors and locals alike.
The 20th Precinct and Transit District 1 responding officers were polite but seemed focused on whether the attack was sexual. Later, the woman would tell me she sensed they thought nothing actually happened, despite a clear crime. “I don’t know,” she said, “one moment I’m walking in the subway and the next someone grabs me from behind. But I wind up OK, so there’s no problem?”
They nabbed the guy, holding him against the tiled wall in the very place the attack occurred. One officer said something like, “He has no ID, no nothing. He’s babbling to himself and doesn’t seem to know where he is.” A sense of pity rose in all of us. The woman did not want to press charges. Even the police were sympathetic, expressing how helping the mentally ill is beyond their capacity. The consensus seemed to be that they would take him somewhere for mental help.
As we waited for the train — mine to Washington Heights, the women’s to Queens — we realized we all had just come from the New-York Historical Society’s “I’ll Have What She’s Having” exhibit on Jewish delis, named for the iconic Katz’s Delicatessen scene in the 1989 film “When Harry Met Sally.” We laughed about what struck us as an ironic way to spend a Friday Shabbat evening days before Hanukkah.
Still perhaps cautious of our surroundings, we shared thoughts about the exhibit. For instance, the surprising amount of Los Angeles material and the signage explaining terms someone Jewish or from New York might take for granted — like mohel or mikvah — and Yiddish words that have long entered the local vernacular, no matter your religion.
The woman who was attacked didn’t want to be identified here, saying “I don’t want people to Google me and this is the first thing they see” — something I understand, having myself been a crime victim in 2014. Later, she texted to say she arrived home safely, adding that, despite the attack, she was “grateful to live in New York, because you restore my faith that people are there for each other.” I don’t think of myself as a mensch or hero. I just did what had to be done. And, like I said, I had a moment’s hesitation.
The situation called for dinner plans. A Jewish deli, of course, considering the circumstances. And it had to be Katz’s.
I arrived at the deli, laden down with a few free Chabad menorahs I picked up along the way after coming from the Union Square Holiday Market. I almost rushed past her standing outside the restaurant, worried about being late. We encountered a chaotic, noisy scene inside, and I realized I had not been there since before the pandemic. A man behind us in the haphazard line, there for the first time, nervously wanted advice. Have what we’re having, I suggested: pastrami on rye with mustard. No cheese, a kosher nod in this place long without such restrictions.
If fate’s bad luck brought us together, serendipity now ruled. Our sandwich maker looked familiar, and I realized he appeared in a video at the deli exhibit. As Esteban pushed our sandwiches over the glass divider, the famous table from the fake orgasm scene in “When Harry Met Sally” suddenly emptied, a family bundling up to leave. I ran to grab it, even mid-sentence talking with Esteban about the exhibit.
Yes, it was touristy! But considering what we had encountered only days before, it was a relief to feel like a tourist in a crowd of tourists. There were locals too, of course, like a diminutive old couple, smiling and saying hello to select tables. We asked a gorgeous Greek tourist we at first thought was an influencer — her dress a one-of-a-kind, hair in flowing, pop queen curls — to snap our picture.
We talked for hours about jobs, travel, family, the men in our lives and how there is no city like New York, with its museums and culture and its ethnic and religious diversity. The ultimate way to say “to life,” l’chaim.
Crime impacts everyone differently, especially when it happens to you. Yet I also know the city is vastly safer than when I was young. At 54, I remember the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, when murders peaked at something like six a day.
If I learned anything from the subway experience, it is that our time on earth is a gift more precious than anything we might unwrap on Hanukkah or Christmas. And if anyone saw us sitting at that famous Katz’s table wondering why we laughed so much, they should ask to have what we were having: a profound appreciation that, like the sandwiches in front of us, life is delicious and should be enjoyed in big portions, despite what fate throws at us.
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Dr. NATHAN WISEMAN
Wiseman, Nathan Elliot
1944 – 2023
Nathan, our beloved husband, Dad, and Zaida, died unexpectedly on December 13, 2023. Nathan was born on December 16, 1944, in Winnipeg, MB, the eldest of Sam and Cissie Wiseman’s three children.
He is survived by his loving wife Eva; children Sam (Natalie) and Marni (Shane); grandchildren Jacob, Jonah, Molly, Isabel, Nicole, and Poppy; brother David (Sherrill); sister Barbara (Ron); sister-in-law Agi (Sam) and many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Nathan grew up in the north end of Winnipeg surrounded by his loving family. He received his MD from the University of Manitoba in 1968, subsequently completed his General Surgery residency at the University of Manitoba and went on to complete a fellowship in Paediatric Surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital of Harvard University. His surgeon teachers and mentors were world renowned experts in the specialty, and even included a Nobel prize winner.
His practice of Paediatric Surgery at Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg spanned almost half a century. He loved his profession and helping patients, even decades later often recounting details about the many kiddies on whom he had operated. Patients and their family members would commonly approach him on the street and say, “Remember me Dr. Wiseman?”. And he did! His true joy was caring for his patients with compassion, patience, unwavering commitment, and excellence. He was a gifted surgeon and leaves a profound legacy. He had no intention of ever fully retiring and operated until his very last day. He felt privileged to have the opportunity to mentor, support and work with colleagues, trainees, nurses, and others health care workers that enriched his day-to-day life and brought him much happiness and fulfillment. He was recognized with many awards and honors throughout his career including serving as Chief of Surgery of Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, President of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Surgeons, and as a Governor of the American College of Surgeons. Most importantly of all he helped and saved the lives of thousands and thousands of Manitoba children. His impact on the generations of children he cared for, and their families, is truly immeasurable.
Nathan’s passion for golf was ignited during his childhood summers spent at the Winnipeg Beach Golf Course. Southwood Golf and Country Club has been his second home since 1980. His game was excellent and even in his last year he shot under his age twice! He played an honest “play as it lies” game. His golf buddies were true friends and provided him much happiness both on and off the course for over forty years. However, his passion for golf extended well beyond the eighteenth hole. He immersed himself in all aspects of the golf including collecting golf books, antiques, and memorabilia. He was a true scholar of the game, reading golf literature, writing golf poetry, and even rebuilding and repairing antique golf clubs. Unquestionably, his knowledge and passion for the game was limitless.
Nathan approached his many woodworking and workshop projects with zeal and creativity, and he always had many on the go. During the winter he was an avid curler, and in recent years he also enjoyed the study of Yiddish. Nathan never wasted any time and lived his life to the fullest.
Above all, Nathan was a loving husband, father, grandfather, son, father-in-law, son-in-law, uncle, brother, brother-in-law, cousin, and granduncle. He loved his family and lived for them, and this love was reciprocated. He met his wife Eva when he was a 20-year-old medical student, and she was 18 years old. They were happily married for 56 years. They loved each other deeply and limitlessly and were proud of each other’s accomplishments. He loved the life and the family they created together. Nathan was truly the family patriarch, an inspiration and a mentor to his children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and many others. He shared his passion for surgery and collecting with his son and was very proud to join his daughter’s medical practice (he loved Thursdays). His six grandchildren were his pride and joy and the centre of his world.
Throughout his life Nathan lived up to the credo “May his memory be a blessing.” His life was a blessing for the countless newborns, infants, toddlers, children, and teenagers who he cared for, for his colleagues, for his friends and especially for his family. We love him so much and there are no words to describe how much he will be missed.
A graveside funeral was held at the Shaarey Zedek cemetery on December 15, 2023. Pallbearers were his loving grandchildren. The family would like to extend their gratitude to Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun Herzlia Congregation.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, in the name of Dr. Nathan Wiseman.
Bill Maher tells it like it is when it comes to what “the river to the sea” really means
Bill Maher cuts to the chase like no one else. Here’s a link to a segment from the most recent episode of “Real Time with Bill Maher” where he exposes the total hypocrisy of the “useful idiots” everywhere chanting “from the river to the sea”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KP-CRXROorw
Jewish community holds solidarity rally November 25
The Jewish Federation of Winnipeg held a rally in support of Israel on Saturday evening, November 25.
A number of speakers addressed the crowd of 800, including Rabbi Yosef Benarroch of Adas Yeshurun-Herzlia Congregation; Members of Parliament Ben Carr & Marty Morantz; Yolanda Papini-Pollock of Winnipeg Friends of Israel; Paula McPherson, former Brock Corydon teacher; and Gustavo Zentner, President of the Jewish Federation.
Click here to watch Ben Carr’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crfREGNRKfg
Click here to watch a video of Marty Morantz’s remarks: https://studio.youtube.com/video/zHzC-iaqivg/ed
Click here to watch a video of Gustavo Zentner’s remarks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3M_cCYuLgs