September 12th

For my parents generation the question was where were you when JFK was shot? For our generation it is where were you on 9/11? This being the 10th anniversary of the attacks it seems appropriate to tell my children where I was that day. I was learning at in the basement of Ramath Orah which was the location at the time of YCT. While it usually felt horrible to be learning all day in a room without windows, on a day where New York City was under attack it felt rather comforting being underground  ensconced in sifrei kodesh. We were totally safe there in our Torah bunker. The issue was that your mother was learning at HUC at the time which is all the way downtown. It is from there that she witnessed the Towers falling down. After a long day of difficult communications and a long way uptown, she got back safe. We were both very lucky. Many were not.

I have not spent that much time thinking about that period of time over the last decade, but seeing all the press around this 10th anniversary has brought back many memories of that time.

For me the memories are less of 9/11 then 9/12. It is not the story of terrorism that sticks in my memory, but the tremendous altruism that followed. During the summer of 2001 I spent the summer as a student Chaplain at NYU Medical Center. When I came to YCT on 9/12 Rabbi Avi Weiss came into the Yeshivah asked me to join him. I grabbed my Chaplain ID and book with Tehilim and I was off to spend the day at Ground Zero. In many ways it is still soon to put those experiences into words. I hope to return to this topic over the next few years to share my reflections of 9/12 with you. In subtle ways that day has framed my rabbinate and my being your Abba. For now let me just say that I feel blessed to have witnessed first hand the humble heroes who responded selflessly to the call to save lives.

While it often gets lost amongst my intense love of and passion for the Land, the State, the People, and the Torah of Israel, I am proud to be an American. I do not always know how to talk about it , but it is something that I choose to celebrate every September 12th.

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