NPR logo A Year After The Economic Crisis, A Peaceful Yom Kippur

A Year After The Economic Crisis, A Peaceful Yom Kippur

I don't know what it's like where you are, but in New York City today things are very, very quiet. This is Yom Kippur, the highest of Judaism's high holidays. Aside from the nominally Christian protesters who picked our neighborhood synagogue for an anti-Semitic rally, we're enjoying the peaceful breather.

How different from 2008, when the Jewish holidays collided with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The New York Times a year ago described the anxiety among service-goers whose vibrating cell phones sounded like "bees swarming a far-off rhododendron." Theirs was a religious holiday, but unlike on Christmas or Easter, the banking world kept churning. From the Oct. 1, 2008, NYT:

Some worshipers arrived at Rosh Hashana services carrying The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times. Others slipped out from time to time to check their voice mail and e-mail messages.

"I would never do this inside synagogue, but I needed to put my mind to rest," said Gary Herman, a hedge fund manager who stepped out of the Tuesday morning service at Temple Emanu-El on Fifth Avenue at 65th Street and switched on his BlackBerry to see how the market was doing.

Mr. Herman said it was trying to sit through a three-hour service on a nerve-wracking day for the markets. "Every time a person asks you, 'How are you?' what they are really eliciting are your thoughts about the market," he said.

Back then, it was hard to see when the economy would ever be normal again. We're aways off, certainly, with unemployment and foreclosures rising. And yet I find it comforting to note the change even a single year can bring.