Today marks the tenth anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania, killing almost 3000 people and sending our nation into disarray. The greatest tragedy in our nation’s history changed the way we live our lives. Our children do not know a world in which we have not been at war. Our children do not know a world without fear. We live in a world with heightened security at religious institutions and high traffic areas like train stations and airports. We live in a world in which profiling is a reality. We live in a world we still mourn the loss of 3000 innocent victims.
We cannot ignore the impact that September 11th has on us as individuals, as a community, as a nation. For the children of the 21st century though, some don’t know what September 11th means. Many of our students said they learned about it in school for the first time.
As part of the weekly Mitzvah trip that the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School Middle School students participate in every Friday, the students participated in HandsOn Jacksonville’s day of community service yesterday to commemorate September 11th. Together we hoped that through Gemilut Hasadim, Acts of Loving Kindness, we could make the world just a little bit better. One Middle School student who has no memory of 9/11 shared: “We help others in honor of those lives that we’ve lost so that they did not die in vain.” We repair the world.
After all, President Obama declared that September 11th is not a day of mourning. September 11th is a National Day of Service and Remembrance. So let us remember. Let us teach our children about September 11th, but let us also teach them about love, unity, and peace. Let us also remember that we honor those lost by participating in service, taking an active role in this world, shaping the world. This is a great opportunity to get involved in our SAC, our Social Action Community, or many of the important organizations that does such incredible work in this world.
We honor those who have fallen by striving to make this world a better place. When we recite the traditional words of the El Maleh Rachamim, the Memorial prayer, we say etein tzedakah b’ad hazkarat nishmato, we promise to give tzedakah, to do good deeds, mitzvot, as a way of honoring the souls of the deceased. So too on this September 11th, may we all live life, and honor the souls of the deceased by celebrating life – and by committing to service and making this world a better place.
May the memory of all those who perished on September 11th be for a blessing always.
-Rabbi Jesse Olitzky