Sept. 11, 2001, was supposed to be an ordinary production day for the Sept. 13 issue of New Jersey Jewish News’ weekly editions, which go to press every Tuesday.
When word came of the terror attacks, gears were shifted, some stories were discarded, and reporters and editors scrambled to provide coverage. Articles that appeared in the issue included eyewitness accounts from local residents and reactions from community officials and area day school students, teachers, and parents.
Wire service coverage included vivid descriptions and photographs of a smoldering Pentagon.
The cover photo was a view of a burning lower Manhattan from New Jersey by photographer Curt Fissel.
“Days of infamy,” the editorial by the late David Twersky, then editor-in-chief, concluded with these words: “With so much at stake, with the future of Western values and the democratic ideal on the line, our nation, which rose to the great challenges of the last century, will not fail.”
In his op-ed “A day that changed how we look at the world,” Washington analyst Douglas Bloomfield said that “terrorism works” in spreading fear, but “while we must be very careful to take the appropriate measures to protect our personal safety, [we must] not go to extremes that will cost us our civil liberties and freedom of movement.”
For the Sept. 20 issue, the haunting cover image of Manhattan enshrouded in smoke was by Robert A. Cumins, who won awards for the pictures he took from his Upper Montclair balcony on Sept. 11.
Most of NJJN’s content in that issue was dedicated to the aftermath of 9/11.
Stories included the organizing of prayer and memorial services by area congregations and other community gatherings and vigils, the reporting of a federation mission to Israel in which Israelis ironically found themselves in the position of comforting NJ visitors, reactions from students at local Jewish high schools, numerous op-eds and letters to the editor, and the raising of concerns about the upcoming High Holy Days and ensuring security at synagogues and Jewish institutions.
Staff writer Robin Friedman, now NJJN’s special projects editor, found herself stranded in Germany while taking part in a press tour for Jewish journalists. Friedman — who was about to enter the crematorium of a notorious concentration camp when her group received word of the attacks — noted the irony of the day in an op-ed in the Sept. 20 issue. “I was at Dachau the day the United States was attacked,” she wrote. “In my case, ‘never forget’ or, more to the point, ‘never again,’ took on a double meaning.”