Huddled around the campfire, I lie on the ground, hood over my head, in my oversized Gap sweatshirt. I shiver and wander into my own thoughts, which are interrupted by a sudden gasp and a chorus of “wows.”
It is the second Thursday night in July. I have spent the entirety of the day canoeing down the Delaware River along with my campers and co-staff members. After a enjoyable day of splashing, tanning, and tipping, we dry off, eat dinner, and sing uplifting songs. Girls settle around the campfire sitting shoulder to shoulder, eating smores and telling inspirational stories.
The “wows” that interrupted my reverie came after my camper relayed a story about her uncle, who was spared from the horrors of 9/11 because he was helping an elderly man through the subway station and missed his train.
I constantly feel guilty that I was too young to remember that traumatic day. Then I thought about my campers. I turn to Esther, a girl sitting to my right.
“Do you know what’s sad?” I ask rhetorically. “These girls were born only two years before 9/11. This event is part of their history course now.”
“Whoa,” Esther contemplates. “I was in third grade.”
“I was in first.”
“Do you know Sara Kaufer?” Esther asks. I nod. Sara was a counselor last year who manages to make anyone laugh and has an outgoing, positive personality. Esther continues, “Sara was in my class. On the morning of September 11, I vividly remember the principal calling her out of class to inform her that her father was killed in the towers.” She pauses. “She moved out of my community after the accident.”
I lay there stupefied. I had no idea that Sara – someone so jolly and outgoing, and only two years older than me – had gone through such a hardship at the impressionable age of eight.
I am left to ponder. I silently thank G-d that all my family members are alive and healthy. I thank Him for the good things as well as the bad things, since I know He has given me the necessary tools to cope with them. As I hear a camper end a story about her parents and their miraculous road to Orthodox Judaism, I thank G-d aloud for granting me, my family, and all the girls around me the privilege of growing up observant Jews.
– Renana Witty
I was in kindergarten the day it happened. Looking back on it, I realize that I remember the oddest detail about that day. I was building something with Legos in the same room where my parents were watching the news. President Bush was making a speech in the Oval Office and my parents had a grave expression on their faces. Being the curious five year-old that I was, I later examined the grim photographs in Newsweek Magazine depicting the destruction of the Twin Towers. Before I could read any further, my mother hid the magazine from me because she didn’t want me seeing such horrible photographs.
Eleven years later, I still look back on that day but I don’t really know what to make it of it. Once in a while, I pass by the Pentagon building, which isn’t too far from where I live. It’s hard to believe that the violence hit so close. I can only hope for a better world.
– Adeena Eisen
Go to shul to pray
Watch as lives become destroyed
That’s all that we can do
– Lois Brofermaker