The Day the World Changed
September 13, 2016
Dear Friend of The Fellowship,
Fifteen years ago, on September 11, 2001, the world changed. On this crisp, clear, early fall day, three hijacked airliners flew into the two World Trade Center towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A fourth plane, United Flight 93, was hijacked but crashed in rural Pennsylvania due to the heroic efforts of passengers to divert it from its intended target. Nearly 3,000 people died, and life in the U.S. was thrown into turmoil. The skies were eerily quiet as all commercial air traffic was suspended for three days.
9/11 was a catastrophic tragedy. America’s war on terror had begun.
No country grasped the situation better than Israel, which was among the first to offer assistance and express solidarity with America on September 11. This did not surprise me – Israel understands the nature of evil, and is all too familiar with its human cost.
Time has a way of making events, no matter how horrible, slip from memory, and in some ways that fateful morning of September 11, 2001 seems very distant. While we have seen a disturbing surge in attacks, there has been nothing approaching the scale of the 9/11 attacks.
With this in mind, perhaps it is time for everyone, whatever their faith, country of origin, or political beliefs, to adopt a phrase that has become the watchword of the Jewish people since the Holocaust: “Never forget.” Never forget those innocent victims of hateful fanaticism who, on the morning of September 11, had their lives extinguished in an instant, or those who struggled mightily to survive but perished. Never forget the firemen, policemen, and ordinary civilians who, in their urge to save others, heroically walked toward the flames rather than away. Never forget those on United Flight 93 who fought back rather than allow their plane to become another weapon.
And, through it all, never forget the words of the psalmist, who spoke so eloquently of God’s faithfulness to His children: “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there” (Psalm 139:7-8). Just as God was present comforting those in trouble during the attacks of September 11, so He is with us today through our triumphs, our tragedies, and the day-to-day routines of our lives. That, more than anything, is a fact worth remembering.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein