Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Remembering AND NOT FORGETTING 9/11 in our Jewish community

I was absolutely stunned this weekend. Through personal experience and a few questions asked, three Orthodox shuls within a few miles of each other in my larger community made ABSOLUTELY NO MENTION of the Tenth Anniversary of 9/11. The Rabbis did not include any reference in their Divrei Torah nor was anything said in the announcements. It should be stated that in one other Orthodox shul in the area, I know mention was made. I am fairly certain this was not even a question in the non-Orthodox shuls in our larger community; it clearly was not in the communities I know about. My concern is that there are probably too many examples of other shuls (whatever the number, it is too many) in the first category and not the second in the larger Orthodox world.

I really do not understand this and would love for someone to explain this so I do not feel so badly. Here we are living in the United States of America, free to worship as we please, free to write, think, vote and do as we please and on September 11, 2001, our freedom and relative sense of well being were profoundly threatened by radicalists who will and do give their very lives in their attempts to take all of this away. Their influence is felt and threatening throughout the world and the catastrophic result of their coordinated efforts on this particular day (and it must be said this is not to the exclusion of too many others, to be sure) cannot be underestimated. Is everyone simply not as shocked, not as concerned and not as horrified as I and others I know are?

I have always been taught and have taught my children that as observant Jews, they also have responsibilities to this country and to the life it has allowed them to live. Our wonderful and amazing son, Brian, who is adopted from the Former Soviet Union, is acutely aware of this and voices his gratitude to this country as follows "You (that would be me, his mommy) and Abba adopted me and brought me here, but the United States has allowed me to have a life that I never would have had in Russia" or words to that general effect.

I feel strongly and know that so many others do as well that we as observant and conscientious Jews have an obligation to be just as careful about who we are as Americans and as human beings. On ALL THREE COUNTS, something incomprehensible and terrifyingly horrible happened during a bit over an hour on the previously beautiful sunny morning of September 11, 2001 - and that CHANGED our lives irrevocably. I do not believe I am being overly dramatic. I know people who died -- they were relatives of friends, former students of mine, friends of friends, parents of students and beyond that, they were Jews, Christians, Muslims, members of other religious communities, Americans and members of other nationalities, and most of all they were all members of the HUMAN FAMILY to which I belong. I still feel shivers when I think of what happened, when I drive by the site of the former Twin Towers, when I hear or see a reference to this event.

I remember exactly where I was and what happened when we heard about the Six Day War in 1967. I know people older than me feel the same about the Declaration of the State of Israel. Those of us who remember the death of President John F. Kennedy as the loss of our innocence are defined as a generation -- with a significantly different memory bank that those who are but a few years younger than us.

I know for a fact that September 11, 2001 is such a generation divider and as the years continue to go by, there will be a marked differentiation of the loss of innocence of those who do remember it and where they were and those who are too young to do so. If those who do not find this event significant enough to mark and remember need something to mourn, then how about this -- the loss of innocence, security and sense of well being of our own children and younger community members.

I do mourn the losses of so much and so many ten years ago on September 11, 2001 and I personally am disappointed in those community leaders who let the ball drop on this one. May we continue to remember those who we lost on that horrific day and May Their Memories Continue to be a Blessing for us all.

1 comment:

  1. The Shira Chadash-esque minyan I went to on Shabbat morning did not mention it either I don't think and I wasn't viscerally shocked. I wonder if in certain kinds of prayer spaces, people do not prioritize other identities besides for Jewish. I think that is a problem, but it's not surprising to me. 9/11 lives on as a day that pulls at the heartstrings of who we are as Americans and I wonder if that concern does not live on nationally for groups of people that would call themselves Jews first and do not necessarily tie that up with what it means to be a citizen of a free democratic society.