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Israel Remembers 9/11 Victims

9.11.3 U.S. Ambassador to Israel David M Friedman addresses the 2018 memorial ceremony in Jerusalem
Andee Goldman chats with American Ambassador David M Friedman
Photo: Wikipedia

'Day of infamy began just like any other. But that clear blue sky was soon filled with smoke'

"We remember a day that began like so many others, with rides to school and commutes to work, early flights for meetings and familiar routines with those quick hugs and goodbyes. It was a normal day like this one – with a clear blue sky. But it quickly became an infamous day, one that would be filled with clouds of smoke and a day when a nation, and much of the world, would be shaken to its core. A day when nearly 3,000 lives were snatched from the families who loved them."
David M. Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel

September 11, 2001, is a day that most people will never forget. Memories go back to the nightmare that unfolded before our eyes. Over and over again, on the news were pictures of two airplanes flying directly into the Twin Towers. American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, crashed into the North and South towers of the World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan. Within an hour and 42 minutes, both 110-story towers collapsed. The event was surreal, like a movie; but it was real. Innocent lives were taken by an evil force that wanted to destroy good.

The horror continued when American Airlines Flight 77 crashes into the western side of The Pentagon and started a violent fire. Five stories of part of the Pentagon collapse due to the fire. United Airlines Flight 93 crashed by its hijackers as a result of fighting in the cockpit 80 miles (129 km) southeast of Pittsburgh. The 9/11 Commission believed that Flight 93's target was either the United States Capitol building or the White House in Washington, D.C.

During the September 11 attacks, 2,977 people were killed (excluding the 19 hijackers) and more than 6,000 others were injured. The attacks were the deadliest terrorist act in world history, and the most devastating foreign attack on United States soil since the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Most of those who perished were civilians except for 343 firefighters and 71 law enforcement officers who died in the World Trade Center and on the ground in New York City. More than 90 countries lost citizens in the attacks, including 67 British citizens, and five Israelis: Alona Avraham, Leon Lebor, Shai Levinhar, Dan Lewin, and Hagay Shefi.

Many people are unaware of an annual memorial ceremony held in Israel at the 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza located in Jerusalem. It is the only 9/11 Memorial Monument outside of the US to list the names of all of the nearly 3,000 victims,

Opened to the public on November 12, 2009, by the Jewish National Fund, the 30-foot-high bronze sculpture features an American flag folded in the shape of a memorial flame and a metal shard from the ruins of the Twin Towers embedded in the base.

Since 1948. Israel has experienced endless terrorism. The country has learnt how to fight, and how to live with the tragic loss of lives. "Our friends in Israel unfortunately knew exactly how we felt, having fallen victim to countless terrorist attacks of equal barbarism," said Ambassador Friedman. "While some in this region – enemies of both Israel and the United States – chose to celebrate, the people of Israel cried with us, mourned with us, and sought to comfort us from a pain they knew only too well. Remembering the past is critical as we think of the future, a future without terror and a future of peace and reconciliation, a future where all our children and grandchildren can live side by side in peace, security and cooperation."

Ed Blank, JNF-USA National Board Member, who funded the memorial
Judy Levinhar, whose son Shai was killed in the 9/11 attack

As September 11, 2018 was Rosh Hashanah, Israel's 9/11 memorial took place on September 6. Rina Kaufman, whose brother Leon Lebor was among those who perished in the attacks, spoke about the approaching Jewish New Year:

"In five days we will be reciting a prayer… where we question in awe who will live and who will die… who will perish in fire, who in water… Jewish people in Israel and all over the world will stand that day in synagogue and pray for a life of peace and well-being and remember the lives that were taken from us in such a tragic event."

Amongst the U.S. and Israeli delegations taking part in this year's ceremony were representatives of KKL/JNF, JNF-USA, the American Embassy, Israeli and U.S. Fire and Rescue Authority personnel, Israeli and US Police, Hadassah Women's Organization, United Airlines, Sar-El Volunteers, students from the Alexander Muss High School, Nefesh B'Nefesh, the US Marines, and diplomats from around the world.

I attended the memorial as a guest of Nefesh B'Nefesh and as I listened to the speeches given by diplomats and other guests I thought of the victims and their bereaved relatives, and the thousands of lives that were lost or changed forever on that terrible day.

For more information about the 9/11 Memorial Plaza, or all of JNF projects and work that supports the land and people of Israel: https://www.jnf.org/menu-2/our-work

 

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Wednesday, 22 September 2021

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