“I was at home on the morning of 9/11 when the world was shattered,” said Rabbi Amy Small of Congregation Beth Hatikvah in Summit.
In an e-mail to NJ Jewish News, the Reconstructionist leader evoked the image of “what it was like for us before that day.”
“We fell from our sense of certainty, possibility, comfort, and safety,” she said. “Everything we had worried about, stressed over, worked on, planned for, even dreamed of was suddenly recast. Many things that mattered a lot suddenly didn’t matter any more. Our priorities were shifted, our emotional realities recalibrated. We are still living in that shadow,” she wrote.
Small had been in Israel a month before the attack, in the days just after a suicide bomber had killed 15 civilians and wounded 130 others at the Sbarro Pizzeria in Jerusalem.
“So when, after 9/11, New York Penn Station started to feel like Jerusalem, with a strong military presence, I recognized this reality and knew about the stress it generated,” Small said. “We became jumpier, more ready to assume something dreadful had happened with any loud booming noise, any accident that caused damage to public places.”
Ten years and three wars later, she wrote, “our nation has managed fear by attacking perceived enemies. So many lives have been lost or damaged or traumatized in the process. Yet we still fear the next terrorist around the corner.”
Decrying the Islamophobia and economic woes that have ensued, Small nonetheless remained optimistic as she prepared for Rosh Hashana 5772.
“While we examine the ways that we honor the memory of those who lost their lives to the violence of 9/11 and the years since then, we have an opportunity to affirm life with gratitude and hope,” she wrote. “It is from this place of hope that we can find healing from fear and faith in our future that will direct who we are and who we shall become.”