For Ori Lefkovitz the best plan to watch the fireworks on July Fourth was to be up as high as possible—on a friend’s rooftop in South Slope, where he planned to be watching the fireworks and eating barbeque. “You get a view of the arching G train, the Statue of Liberty and the East River; it’s expansive,” Lefkovitz says.
A native Ohioan, the 24-year-old has carried some Fourth of July traditions to his current Greenpoint residence. Practicing Orthodox Jewish dietary customs, Lefkovitz avoids cheeseburgers (he doesn’t eat meat and dairy in combination), but loves kabobs. “Fourth of July means a day off from work and a great view; where I’m from that means a large clearing of grass where the town gathered to watch fireworks,” he says.
To Lefkovitz, being American means having a centrist view on political issues. As an economics graduate from the University of Maryland, he loves the idea of rationality, in which statistics make sense empirically rather than speculatively. Working as a consultant for mobile app design enforces this strategy of logical thinking.
“This might sound contradictory because everyone thinks America is radical in being so liberal or so conservative,” Lefkovitz says. “But we’re a country in a unique position with a lot of influence. To quote Spiderman, ‘With great power, comes great responsibility.’”
Lefkovitz says that one of the greatest challenges for Americans is to think rationally on an international stage to understand all sides of controversial issues. After high school, he took a gap year and lived in Israel for a year, where he came to grips with the historic contention between Israelis and Palestinians. This experience gave him perspective on another conflict closer to home.
A different set of groups in combat with each other—undocumented immigrants and some American citizens—are also making the news. The TODAY show reported recently that buses of citizens from El Salvador approached the American border hoping to claim amnesty from corruption, crime, and violence back home. However, crowds of protesters enforced that the buses turn around. “You obviously can’t let everyone in but I’m against the physical idea of turning them away,” Lefkovitz says.
While the Fourth of July inspires different perspectives on what it means to be an American, Lefkovitz advocates balance in decision-making in our day-to-day lives. “We need to take advantage of being in a powerful country to make rational decisions, not necessarily what we believe in our private lives,” he says.