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Where Were You on 9/11?

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It’s difficult to fathom that the worst attacks on American soil occurred twenty years ago this week.

The post Where Were You on 9/11? appeared first on Jewish Journal.

It’s difficult to fathom that the worst attacks on American soil occurred twenty years ago this week. Twenty-four Angelenos perished on 9/11; the youngest was only three years old. In asking “Where Were You On 9/11?”, we also wanted to know how some processed the horrific events in New York through the timeline and possible trauma of their own lives. May the memories of the 2,996 who perished be for a blessing.


“For those of us who were born and raised in New York, the Twin Towers were an irreplaceable part of a skyline that evokes in us the feeling of home. Political consultant Dick Morris said it best: for New Yorkers, losing the Twin Towers is like having two teeth missing from your mouth.  When the towers fell on that terrible day, my body shook from an overwhelming sense of loss — loss of a staggering number of innocent lives, loss of those iconic monuments to American power and privilege, and loss of our own security, which we felt had evaporated in the flames and the smoke. But my body shook also for another reason: As a U.S. army officer, I realized then that my life would never be the same. That horrific attack on our country was an act of war, and I knew that to war, I would soon be going.”

— Elan Carr
Former Special Envoy for Monitoring and Combating Anti-Semitism, Iraq War veteran, JAG Corps officer in the U.S. Army Reserve


“Then: 9/11/2001: a beautiful Tuesday morning. I was leaving home to teach an English class. On television, I noticed a plane crashing into a tall building and thought, ‘What a tragic accident!’

“Twenty years later, after the initial shock and hysteria have worn off somewhat, we are still left with grief and endless loss, remembering how my exceptional brother, was taken from us suddenly and forever.”  — Vera Glatt

Now: 9/11/2021: Twenty years later, after the initial shock and hysteria have worn off somewhat, we are still left with grief and endless loss, remembering how my exceptional brother, Ari, Alav Ha’Shalom, was taken from us suddenly and forever. Ari worked on floor 103 of the North Tower. He was brilliant, creative, loving, adventurous, sincere and outstanding. He now has a great-nephew named after him, and a large family that treasures all the many precious memories we have.”

— Vera Glatt
Teacher (retired)


“My husband, son, and I were visiting New York, and we were supposed to be passengers on United Airlines Flight 175, which crashed into the second tower. But our son, who was only five-months- old, was so fussy that we came home a day early. Our friends, with whom we were supposed to fly home, Dan Brandhorst, Ron Gamboa, and their son, David Gamboa Brandhorst, flew on Flight 175 and were murdered. Our son regularly reminds us we are alive only because of how fussy he was, and uses this to extract a bigger allowance.

— Grant Gochin,
Los Angeles, Vice Dean, Los Angeles Consular Corps


“Unfortunately, my memory of 9/11 got fogged out by so many traumatic events that followed.” — Dr Judea Pearl

“Unfortunately, my memory of 9/11 got fogged out by so many traumatic events that followed. I can hardly remember where I was and what I felt.”

— Dr. Judea Pearl
Professor of Computer Science, UCLA; President, The Daniel Pearl Foundation


“In my 94 years of life, I’ve lived in various countries and witnessed a lot of personal and world tragedies, even after surviving the Holocaust. But I always felt secure and safe in America, with my California-born children. On 9/11, I sat in front of the TV, complacent, seeing the most horrible pictures of people jumping out of windows from a high rise building that was crumbling. On 9/11, I didn’t want to believe that this was happening in America.”

— Mary Bauer
Speaker; survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau


“When we finally landed in New York, the smell of smoke and ash was still thick in the air, marking our first moments in America.” — Peyvand Mirzadeh Silverman

“After escaping from Iran, my mother and I were in Vienna, awaiting refugee resettlement to the United States, with a flight scheduled to New York on 9/11. We were packed and ready to go to the airport, when we turned on the TV in time to see the second tower collapse. We were mortified. HIAS called to tell us our flight was cancelled. We couldn’t stay in our apartment, as it had already been rented. When our flight finally came through, we practically had to convince airport security that we weren’t terrorists. What stands out most was that when we finally landed in New York, the smell of smoke and ash was still thick in the air, marking our first moments in America.”

— Peyvand Mirzadeh Silverman, DVM
Medical Director, Pet Orphans of Southern California


“On the morning of 9/11, my wife, Ruby, and I were on an Air Canada flight returning home to Santa Monica for Rosh Hashana. Half an hour into the flight, the captain announced that we were returning to Montreal because Los Angeles airport was closed. The next three days were a nightmare, alternating between the incessant scenes on TV of the carnage in New York; frantic and desperate telephone calls to book a flight back to Los Angeles; and flashbacks to September 11, 1948 in Iraq, when Shafiq Adas, one of the most prominent Jewish personalities in Iraq, was court-marshalled and then condemned to death. I was only seventeen then and still living in Iraq. I was hysterical when I saw the photo of his hanged body on the front page of the Al Zaman paper. Three days after 9/11/2001, and many calls later, we flew back home on Erev Rosh Hashanah. We had a somber celebration, but our family managed to pray for a better year. Every year that I spend out of Iraq is a better year in my life.

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— Joe Samuels
Speaker; survivor of the 1941 Farhud Massacre of Jews in Iraq


“It is a war we must win not just with weapons but with fidelity, decency and faith.”

— Rabbi David Wolpe

“Like most of America, I saw the towers fall on TV, again and again and again.
I saw people plunge to their deaths, again and again and again.
Reminding us anew how immediately effective evil can be:
Years to plan and build a tower, moments to destroy it.
Years to create a life, moments to destroy it.
The pain reverberates through the years.
The loss, the waste, the aftermath.

And I knew it was a declaration of war. Not just against America. But against an idea and a promise.  And the war was both new and as old as humanity.

Then, as now, it is a war we must win not just with weapons but with fidelity, decency and faith.”

— Rabbi David Wolpe
Max Webb Senior Rabbi, Sinai Temple


“He was covered in white dust and walked over the bridge to get home. It took 5 hours for him to reach someone to tell his family he had survived.” — Dalia Golan

“It was early evening when my family in Israel called to alert me of a disaster happening in New York. I turned on the TV as the first tower fell. My brother-in-law worked in the North tower at Cantor Fitzgerald, which lost 658 out of 960 employees. I called his wife (my sister), who was eight-months pregnant at the time, and we watched the tower fall. She screamed, believing that her husband was crushed under the wreckage. As it turned out, he had broken his foot weeks prior, so he arrived late to work. He just missed the last elevator that went up to his floor, right after the first plane hit (most people still didn’t know what was really going on). When he tried to take the second elevator, firefighters moved him to safety and went back inside the tower. Not long later, the towers collapsed and the firefighters who saved his life perished. He was covered in white dust and walked over the bridge to get home. It took 5 hours for him to reach someone to tell his family he had survived.”

— Dalia Golan
Director of Ivrit and Israel Education, Harkham Hillel Hebrew Academy


“A few months before 9/11, I was offered a job temping at the World Trade Center, but, on a whim, I decided to visit Israel to attend seminary and get to know myself and my people’s history a bit better. That day, I was standing in a CelCom store in Israel. I looked up at a TV that showed, in real-time, the second tower being taken down by flames and smoke.

I fell onto the floor. There were human bombs going off daily in Israel, but I had somehow gotten used to those. I was supposed to be in one of those towers. Who knew that making a choice to visit Israel would not just save my life, but teach me exactly what it means to live a life of meaning, and create history while I’m here on Earth?”

— Barbara Heller
Actor, producer, educator, and host of the podcast, “See One Beautiful Soul”


“On the morning of 9/11, my phone was ringing off the hook in the tiny apartment I shared with a roommate on Genesee Ave. As an Israeli, we instinctively knew what this attack was. But the magnitude of this attack was hard to fathom. Like the rest of the world, my roommate and I spent the next few days in front of the news and in shock. We took part in the neighborhood memorial services, which reminded me of the way Israelis came together after Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. These joint moments of shared horror where everyone comes together to grief. I was new to the States at the time, and this was an unwelcome welcome, which crystalized for me our humanity and the importance of aligning yourself with people and countries who share your values, and fight with all your might to change the hearts and minds of the ones who don’t. Never forget.”

— Noa Tishby
Actor, writer, producer and activist


“The occasion was a family wedding on September 9th in Boston. When we checked into the hotel, my father, who was wearing a kippah, noticed a Middle Eastern man in the lobby giving him a long, dirty look. My father chalked it up to antisemitism and didn’t give it another thought.

On the afternoon of 9/11, a news crew came to our hotel. Apparently, two of the terrorists had been staying there before their “mission,” and it was one of the terrorists who had stared at my father so contemptuously.”

— Devorah Jacobson
Writer and community organizer


New Yorkers are blunt, direct and sometimes rude, but they united in a display of shared sorrow and brotherhood that we desperately need today. — Rabbi David Baron

I was born in lower Manhattan at Beth Israel Hospital, and that neighborhood remains a very special place for me. During college, I worked summers on Wall St at my cousin’s firm. Even though I was in Los Angeles on 9/11, the impact was one of shock and anguish as I awoke to hear the news reports of the planes crashing into the Twin Towers. New Yorkers are blunt, direct and sometimes rude, but they united in a display of shared sorrow and brotherhood that we desperately need today. One of our temple members lost a son-in-law who worked for Cantor Fritzgerald, and another had a former wife who worked as a flight attendant on the doomed, yet heroic Flight 93. We held a memorial service at our Temple of the Arts; a year later, we invited author Gerald Posner of “While America Slept” to analyze the massive intelligence failures. We must never forget those lost and hold the murderers accountable.

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— Rabbi David Baron
Founding Rabbi, Temple of the Arts


“On 9/11, my friend picked me up for carpooling. We had just started senior year of high school and he said, ‘They’re bombing the World Trade Center!’ When we got to class, we watched the towers collapse. This only solidified my life-long desire to serve our country. I went to college on an ROTC scholarship and served as an officer out of Fort Bragg, NC.”

— Charlie Jasper
Physical security consultant and U.S. Army veteran


“The night before 9/11, I spoke in Encino for a new group at the time, called ‘StandWithUs.’  My remarks were about the tragedy of Palestinian leaders promoting genocidal hatred, suicide bombing and other forms of terrorism to their young children. The following morning, we all awoke to the unfathomable horror and painful images of suicide terrorists having murdered thousands of Americans in New York. As we watched in disbelief as the towers fell, I thought about kids who would be taught to celebrate this evil act, as some Palestinians did on 9/11. Since then, Islamist extremism has only brought more destruction to Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, and others worldwide. As ISIS, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, the Taliban, and the Iranian regime constantly remind us, this fight is tragically far from over.”

— Roz Rothstein,
CEO and Co-Founder, StandWithUs


“I was in my second year as a diplomat, on my way to a meeting in Tel Aviv with the Director General of the President’s office, Mr. Aryeh Shumer, when we saw through a window on TV the first plane hit the Towers. We were shocked. We were glued to the window, and when we saw the second, we knew it was a terror attack.  Israel went from initial shock to an outpouring of sympathy. Tragically, Israel has felt the blow of such attacks and there was a feeling of astonishment and disbelief that the United States had now been hit.  We know this was an attack on the shared values of the U.S. and Israel. It felt particularly close to me since I had visited the Towers several times and the feeling of deep sorrow for the victims and the people of the U.S. persists to this day.”

— Dr. Hillel Newman
Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles


“I arrived at the compound of the Israel Aircraft Industries in Tel Aviv to conduct an interview for my doctoral dissertation. Unaware of what had taken place in New York, I was shocked to find all security points unmanned. I entered the office where my interview was to take place unnoticed. A crowd had gathered around the television set in an adjoining room. My brain was trying to grasp what was happening when my attention too turned to the images on the television, an airplane crashing into a skyscraper. That afternoon, Israel closed its borders. The remaining image of that afternoon was that of a line of attack helicopters flying above the horizon over the Mediterranean Sea with an unknown destination.”

— Dr. Sharon Nazarian
Senior Vice President, International Affairs, Anti-Defamation League


“That day and the questions it inspired changed the course of my life.” — Sam Yebri

“There is nothing like the Tri-State area in September. The terrorists could not have picked a more idyllic month. The weather, the leaves, the autumn breeze. In the fall of 2001, I was a premed student from LA starting my junior year at Yale, a short 90 minute Metro North ride from Manhattan. The first tower was hit at 8:46am. Minutes later, I will never forget watching my classmates sprint from the cafeteria to the nearest TV. Those of us with cell phones called home. None of it felt real. That day and the questions it inspired changed the course of my life. I never did make it to organic chemistry that day … or another day.”

— Sam Yebri
Attorney, Jewish community leader, and candidate for Los Angeles City Council


“We needed to be together; to share our shock, our fear; to share words of prayer and find a way back toward hope.” — Rabbi Ed Feinstein

“September 11 was a Tuesday. On Friday night, an otherwise ordinary Shabbat eve, the synagogue was full. We needed to be together; to share our shock, our fear; to share words of prayer and find a way back toward hope. 9/11 revealed the fragility of all we hold dear. The synagogue continued to be crowded for many weeks. As the foundations of our security were shaken, we needed to return to surer, older, deeper roots of faith and trust.  At the end of each service, we sang ‘God Bless America,’ and we meant it. The promise of America, we learned, is sacred; not to be taken for granted, treated lightly, or tread upon.”

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— Rabbi Ed Feinstein
Senior Rabbi, Valley Beth Shalom


“I was in medical school, and everyone showed up to class crying and upset. Several people were from New York or had family there. We were supposed to have an exam that morning, and we thought it would be postponed. The Dean walked in and said, ‘This test is what being a doctor is all about. Imagine you are working in the ER and they are bringing these patients to your hospital. There is no time to stop or delay treatment because you are upset.’ We took the test.”

— Dr. Sherri Tavassoli
Board-Certified Family Medicine Physician 


“September 11, 2001 is a day forever etched in my mind. My wife and I were on our way to Israel with a 7-hour stopover in London. When we reached our temporary hotel room, we turned on the television, shocked to see planes crashing into buildings, convinced it was a movie rather than a reality that would forever change our world. Later, we discovered that one of the victims was the nephew of a staff member of the Wiesenthal Center for over 30 years.

Have we not learnt anything from our mistakes? Look how it took us in the 30’s to recognize the evil of the Swastika. Look what’s happening now in Afghanistan. All nations must stand together to confront the suicide bombers and Jihadis who murder and maim. As Winston Churchill said,

‘Strength is granted to us all when we are needed to serve great causes.’”

— Rabbi Marvin Hier
Founder and Dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center


I felt pulled downtown by some invisible force, and started walking, breathlessly, down Broadway. The streets were eerily quiet. Cars pulled over on the side of the road, strangers gathered in groups to listen to radio news reports. No one had any idea what was going on. — Rabbi Sharon Brous

“I had just been ordained and was in my first rabbinic position at B’nai Jeshurun in New York City. I was home on the Upper West Side when my mother called to tell me to turn on the TV. My husband and I watched the second tower collapse, live, just miles from our apartment. I felt pulled downtown by some invisible force, and started walking, breathlessly, down Broadway. The streets were eerily quiet. Cars pulled over on the side of the road, strangers gathered in groups to listen to radio news reports. No one had any idea what was going on. I got to the synagogue offices, where streams of people began pouring in to see how they might help, and really just to be together. We made hundreds of calls that day—everyone we knew who worked in the Towers or anywhere near. Then we made our way, with the other clergy, to Ground Zero the next night to pastor to the first responders. What I’ll never forget: the silence. The smell. The ash deposits on our windowsill for months. The disbelief and the fear. The printed names and photos plastered on every wall in the city—desperate family members hoping for any information about their loved ones. And the way that New Yorkers made eye contact with one another for a few weeks. Wept with strangers. Spoke more gently to each other and held one another a bit more tenderly.”

— Rabbi Sharon Brous
Senior Rabbi, IKAR


“I was a senior at UCLA, and I was spending a semester at UC Berkeley. I awoke to hear the news. The response at UC Berkeley was very different than at UCLA and the rest of the country: That day, there was a small shop in Berkeley that displayed the American flag and a window sign that said, ‘We are proud to be Americans, and we mourn for the people of New York.’ Students threw tomatoes at the store window. I was told the fire department stopped putting up American flags because students were taking them down off the trucks, saying that America caused this (9/11) to happen to our own country. It was heartbreaking.”

— Dr. Sean Young
Founder and Director of the UC Institute for Prediction Technology and the UCLA Center for Digital Behavior 


My husband and I were in New York for my nephew’s wedding. We decided to visit former president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s house in Hyde Park. On the morning of 9/11, we were touring FDR’s former residence, and as happens on every tour of that house, his famous speech from December 7, 1941 (Pearl Harbor) began playing. That when we heard the words, ‘This is a day that will live in infamy.’”

— Judy Herbst
New Yorker, Mother and grandmother


“9/11 was a day I felt tremendous loss and sorrow. I was driving early to work that day on the 405, talking to an old friend who was heading to the World Trade Center and was late. We both pulled over as he watched the building collapse.  We both cried without knowing the deep loss those families and our nation mourned in the days, weeks and years ahead. I recite the Kaddish on 9/11 and will continue for the rest of my life.”

— Jay Sanderson
President and CEO, The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles 

“I recite the Kaddish on 9/11 and will continue for the rest of my life.” — Jay Sanderson

The post Where Were You on 9/11? appeared first on Jewish Journal.

Source: Jewish Journal https://jewishjournal.com/cover_story/340402/where-were-you-on-9-11/

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