Being Jewish and American on 9/11

www.flickr.com/photos/vosherov/ Second Tower on Fire, 9/11 Vladimir Osherov

Twin Towers burning, view from Queens. Credit: Vladimir Osherov

by Lou Balcher

With the High Holidays around the corner, remembrance and reflection are part of our Jewish DNA. So what is the significance of 9/11 for us as American Jews?

Prominently placed on my suit jacket lapel is a 9/11 pin that is worn while speaking about Israel at community events. It always is a conversation starter. After the talk, unfailingly someone asks, “Why the 9/11 pin?” My answer is that on 9/11, our Christian neighbors and friends finally began to understand what it means to be Jewish and supportive of Israel. [Read more…]

September 11: Look What My Husband Got Me For His Birthday

Comedian and Philadelphia Jewish Voice contributor Steve Hofstetter, whose birthday is today, decided to use the day for something serious. He made a video discouraging his 8 million social media people from birthday wishes, instead asking for donations to a cancer org that helped his wife during a difficult time.

Remembering 9/11

Drybones: September 11, 2001

Crossposted from Democratic Convention Watch

On this 11th anniversary of the fall of the towers, the attack on the Pentagon and the downing of the plane in Western Pennsylvania, we are ALL Americans attacked. The DCW team bows its collective head in remembrance of those lost and injured, and of the brave men and women who did all they could in the aftermath.

While this should not be a day for politics, there is new information that the Bush neo-cons were apprised not just in August, but also in May of 2001 that Bin Laden was planning an attack on American soil. Rumsfeld and company chose to believe that Saddam Hussein was the greater threat. Read here. Think of everything that went wrong AFTER 9/11, the unnecessary war in Iraq, the ineptitude in chasing down Bin Laden by the Bushies, the intolerance directed against innocents. Remember it today, act on it November 6th.

Matt and I are Native New Yorkers, and Oreo is originally from the 'burbs. We grew up with the Towers being part of everyday life. Huge, a giant shadow, but just part of what we knew. I personally remember being a kid and going on school trips to see its construction. To those memories, there is this from Dan Meth.

We wish you peace on this sad anniversary. 

 

Send Obama A Message!


— by Rabbi Avi Shafran

The Obama administration considers Israel a sponsor of terror — at least according to Dick Morris, the disgraced ex-advisor to Bill Clinton, and a host of self-styled “conservative” media. The news was shocking — well, maybe not to the clever folks who knew all along that the president is a secret Muslim, but certainly to the rest of us.

What turned out to be the case is that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency maintains a list of 36 “specially designated countries” whose immigrating citizens get extra scrutiny because their nations “promote, produce or protect terrorist organizations or their members.” Note the word “or.”

“Produce,” in this context, means that terrorists reside in the country. Thus, countries like the Philippines and Morocco, along with Israel, are on the list. Approximately a million and a half Israeli citizens are Arabs-many of whom have ties to Arab residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. So no, with apologies to Mr. Morris et al, the U.S. does not consider Israel a terror sponsor.

What makes some people all too ready to misrepresent such things is that many Americans, especially in the Jewish community, have deep concerns about President Obama’s Middle East policies. My personal view is that these concerns are overblown. While I realize there are other opinions, as far as I can tell Mr. Obama’s positions on building in the settlements and on the terms of Israel-Palestinian negotiations have been American policy since long before his presidency.

Even doubters of Mr. Obama’s good will, though, should recognize the import of the administration’s declared readiness to veto any U.N. Security Council resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood. That stance risks the U.S.’s international political capital and may even, G-d forbid, come to threaten Americans’ safety. Might it speak more loudly about the president than his opposition to new settlements?

Speaking equally loudly is what happened on September 9, when Mr. Obama acted swiftly to warn Egyptian authorities that they had better protect Israeli embassy guards in Cairo besieged by a mob. When Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minster Barak were unable to reach the apparently indisposed Egyptian military leader Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spent hours hounding the Egyptian, finally reaching him at 1 AM to let him know that if anything happened to the Israelis, there would be “very severe consequences.” Egyptian soldiers protected the hostages until an Israeli Air Force plane safely evacuated them.

Mr. Netanyahu later recounted that he had asked for Mr. Obama’s help and that the president had replied that he would do everything he could. “And so he did,” testified the Prime Minister.  

It may not be meaningful for many, but I was struck two days later on the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks when the president, betraying his Islamic beliefs (joke!), chose for his reading at the New York ceremony the 46th chapter of Tehillim. The one including the words (in the White House’s translation):

“Though its waters roar and be troubled… there’s a river whose streams shall make glad the City of G-d, the holy place of the Tabernacle of the Most High.”

And:

“The God of Jacob is our refuge.”

Whatever our takes on this or that statement or position, hard facts are not up for debate.

Let’s not forget some such facts:

  • The Obama administration has provided more security assistance to Israel than any American administration;
  • he has repeatedly declared (first in 2009 in Cairo during his speech to the Arab world) that the bond between the U.S. and Israel is “unbreakable”;
  • his Secretary of State lectured Al-Jazeera that “when the Israelis pulled out of Lebanon they got Hezbollah and 40,000 rockets and when they pulled out of Gaza they got Hamas and 20,000 rockets”;
  • his State Department has condemned the Palestinian Authority’s “factually incorrect” denial of the Western Wall’s connection to the Jewish people;
  • and much more.

Last week, in the lead-up to a Congressional election in Brooklyn  in which Jews had ample other reason to vote against the Democratic candidate, some ads presented the contest as an opportunity to “Send Obama a Message”-which some Jews took to mean an angry message about Israel.

Many thoughtful Jews, though, have a different message for Mr. Obama:

"Thank you."

Faith Leaders Commemorate 9/11 and Denounce Islamaphobia


When the fires of intolerance are spreading, will we raise our voices in protest?  Will we stand with Muslim Americans when emotions are raw and the danger is greatest?

— Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President of the Union for Reform Judaism

Ten years ago this weekend, a terror attack changed the world and changed America forever.  It left Americans frightened and dismayed, and filled American hearts with bewilderment and enduring rage.

We stand here today as representatives of America’s great religious traditions.  What has been our role in healing our nation?

I suggest that we have had, and still have, four major tasks.

More after the jump.
Our first task is to help America remember the victims and to offer their families comfort and healing.  Sometimes, let’s admit, 9/11 has become a slogan or a cause rather than a human tragedy.  But we in the religious world are not distracted; we focus on the lives snuffed out and on those who suffered most.  We pray for the bereaved and extend a loving hand to the injured and traumatized.  We know that news may move on, but for those affected, the loss and the pain remain.

Our second task is to educate about the meaning of 9/11.  And education means that religious communities must confront the extremists in their midst; if we cower in the face of fanatic minorities, we are lost. This is true for Muslims, and it is true for us all. And education also means that when we look at 9/11, we must absolutely refuse to justify, excuse, or explain away what happened.

The attacks of 9/11 were acts of unmitigated evil, carried out by men who polluted religion by coupling it with violence.  As religious leaders, we know something about this; after all, the connection between religion and violence is set out in the story of Cain and Abel at the very beginning of the Biblical story of humankind.

And we know, better than anyone, that there is no such thing as murdering your way to salvation; we know that ruthless acts, calculated to produce shock and outrage, are an affront to God and to everything we hold dear; we know that whatever explanations might now be offered, those responsible for this evil are those who chose to kill in God’s name.

And because it is hard to comprehend evil on such a scale, when we talk about 9/11, we try to talk about flesh-and-blood people – like two-year old Christine Hanson, sitting on her father’s lap on United Airlines Flight 175 on her way to Disneyland.  We remind Americans that taking Christine’s life was blasphemous and repugnant; and we remind them too of the profound reverence that we all must have for human life and the integrity of creation.

Our third task is to resist with all of our might the view that the extremist fringe that carried out and supported this violent act is the voice of Islam in America or in the world.

To give you a sense of how difficult this is, permit me to say a few words about what is happening here in America.

I believe that America has done a better job than most of the world, including Christian Europe, of embracing its Muslim citizens and welcoming its Muslim immigrants.  What makes the United States unique is our religiosity and our pluralism.  Americans respect religion and believe in God, and they eventually learn to respect religions different from their own.  Add to that the great principle of church-state separation and we can be confident that for Muslim Americans, like all other Americans, full religious freedom will eventually be assured.

Nonetheless, there is cause for concern.

The events of 9/11 and other events since, such as the Park51 controversy, opened a door that some have been quick to rush through.  Ten years after 9/11, negative views of Muslim Americans continue to rise.  Ten years after 9/11, it has somehow become respectable to verbally attack Muslims and Islam in America.  Vital distinctions are being blurred by people who should know better.  I am referring to distinctions between the radical, fanatic version of Islam, held by a tiny minority of Muslims, and centrist Islam; I am referring to distinctions between the moderate majority and the extremists on the margins.

There are very real consequences when entire populations are represented in the public imagination by their worst elements, when the sins of the few are applied to the group as a whole.

I have watched in astonishment as prominent politicians, including candidates for President of the United States, have found it politically opportune to peddle divisive anti-Muslim bigotry.

And if all of this were not enough, we have been witness to a paranoid fantasy about Sharia law taking over America by stealth.  In the last year, more than two dozen states have proposed legislation outlawing the use of Shariah law in state courts.  Louisiana, Tennessee and Oklahoma have already approved such measures, which I do not hesitate to call anti-Muslim.

When I hear such things, I can barely contain myself.  What if a state were to put forward a bill that referenced Jewish law or Canon law in a similar way?  Jews and Catholics would be outraged, and rightly so.  To say that these laws are unnecessary is an understatement of monumental proportions.  Have these lawmakers not heard of the First Amendment, which already prohibits courts from adopting any kind of religious code as law of the land?

These laws serve only to do two things:  single out Muslims as second-class citizens and undermine the Constitution of the United States.

Many Muslim Americans that I know are feeling beleaguered right now, and I would be surprised if they were not.

But now the good news:  this is a great and wonderful country.  And with President Obama and President Bush before him leading the way, most Americans still see this country as a secure sanctuary that safeguards our right to be different and to follow our own religious path.  

Yes, troubling things are happening now, due in part to the economic climate.  As we know, economic uncertainty is often a fertile ground for hatred.

But we will not accept excuses.  And the fact is that good people are fighting back.  The people in this room are fighting back.  And most Americans, with the right leadership and inspiration, will be proud to stand with the forces of inclusion and to oppose the forces of intolerance in this land.

And that brings me to our fourth and final task:  to offer hope, and faith.

This is a difficult time for America.  Politics is inherently divisive, and never more so than now.  When everyone is shouting; when every voice on talk radio or cable news is trying to be the loudest and the most shocking; when it seems that our problems are too great to solve and our hatred too deep to cure, it is the task of religion to offer healing and a sense of the common good.

And when our Muslim neighbors are under attack, the best way to do that is not with theology, but with personal friendships, and with concrete, grassroots, hands-on projects that bring us together.  And that is exactly what we have been doing, and we will give you the details in a minute.

And our message today is:  timing is everything.  The time for coalitions of decency to come together to fight for our Muslim neighbors and for religious understanding is now, when it is needed most.  

This is our challenge: When the fires of intolerance are spreading, will we raise our voices in protest?  Will we stand with Muslim Americans when emotions are raw and the danger is greatest?  We will, I believe.  It won’t be easy, it will take work, but we will do so.  Because that is the moral course.

So I end with the hope – that is our common hope – that Muslims, Jews, and Christians will not permit fanaticism to grow or prejudice to harden; that as the sacred day of 9/11 approaches, we will honor the memory of those who died by teaching our children to honor life; and that here, in America, as seekers of God and children of Abraham, we will refuse to grant a victory to those who work to divide us; that here in America, we will reclaim our common heritage and find a common path.

Thank you for being here and for joining with us.

Let’s Reclaim the Post-9/11 Unity


— by President Barack Obama

Ten Septembers have come and gone since that awful morning. But on this 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we are summoned once more to honor those we lost by keeping our country strong and true to their memory.

Over the coming days, we will remember nearly 3,000 innocent victims – fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters who were simply going about their daily lives on a beautiful Tuesday morning. And we’ll talk to our children about what happened on that day, and what’s happened since.

Like every American, I’ll never forget how I heard the terrible news, on the car radio on my way to work in Chicago. Yet like a lot of younger Americans, our daughters have no memory of that day. Malia was just 3; Sasha was an infant. As they’ve grown, Michelle and I faced the same challenge as other parents in deciding how to talk with our children about 9/11.

More after the jump.

One of the things we’ve told them is that the worst terrorist attack in American history also brought out the best in our country. Firefighters, police and first responders rushed into danger to save others. Americans came together in candlelight vigils, in our houses of worship and on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Volunteers lined up to give blood and drove across the country to lend a hand. Schoolchildren donated their savings. Communities, faith groups and businesses collected food and clothing. We were united, as Americans.

This is the true spirit of America we must reclaim this anniversary – the ordinary goodness and patriotism of the American people and the unity that we needed to move forward together, as one nation.

Indeed, the last decade has been a challenging one for our country. But we have also seen the strength of the United States- in cities that have refused to give in to fear; in communities that have persevered through hard economic times; and, above all, in our men and women in uniform and their families who have borne an extraordinary burden for our security and our values.

The perpetrators of those attacks wanted to terrorize us, but they are no match for our resilience. Today, our country is more secure and our enemies are weaker. Yet while we have delivered justice to Osama bin Laden and put al-Qaeda on the path to defeat, we must never waver in the task of protecting our nation.

On a day when others sought to destroy, we choose to build. Once again, Sept. 11 will be a National Day of Service and Remembrance, and at Serve.gov every American can make a commitment to honor the victims and heroes of 9/11 by serving our neighbors and communities.

Finally, on a day when others tried to divide us, we can regain the sense of common purpose that stirred in our hearts 10 years ago. As a nation, we face difficult challenges, and as citizens in a democratic society we engage in vigorous debates about the future. But as we do, let’s never forget the lesson we learned anew 10 years ago – that our differences pale beside what unites us and that when we choose to move forward together, as one American family, the United States doesn’t just endure, we can emerge from our tests and trials stronger than before.

That’s the America we were on 9/11 and in the days that followed.

That’s the America we can and must always be.

Cartoon reprinted courtesy of Yaakov (Dry Bones) Kirschen www.DryBonesBlog.blogspot.com.  

Ten Years Later: The Sukkah & the World Trade Center


The past, as William Faulkner said, is not even past.

— by Rabbi Arthur Waskow

At about 11 o’clock on 9/11 ten years ago, I casually phoned New York to talk with my beloved life-partner, Rabbi Phyllis Berman. Phyllis founded and directs an intensive English-language school for newly arrived immigrants and refugees. The school is housed in Riverside Church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and every weekday Phyllis commutes back and forth from/ to Philadelphia.  

But that morning, my telephone gave back only a frantic bzz-bzz-bzz, a super-busy signal. After trying for 30 minutes, I called the Operator. “There’s a glitch in the phone system to New York,” I said.

“Haven’t you heard?” she answered — and explained.

I knew that once a  month or so, Phyllis had a business breakfast in the World Trade Centers. So now my call was not a casual “How you doing?” I finally got through to learn that she was safe at Riverside, shepherding her  frightened non-English-speaking students  to walk their ways home through a frantic, fearful city  — with no means of public transportation.

In 2001, September 11 came three weeks before Sukkot,  the Jewish harvest festival whose major symbol is a thatched hut, a sukkah, utterly open to the wind and rain.  
Through that day and night, I was haunted by two images: the proud, massive, sky-penetrating Twin Towers on Manhattan’s edge, and the  utterly vulnerable sukkah we were soon to build.

During the next weeks, as we move toward 9/11/11, I will share with you some prayers and liturgies that might help us build new sukkahs in our souls.

On September 12, I wrote the meditation that follows the jump.

The Sukkah & the World Trade Center

When the Jewish community celebrates the harvest festival, we build sukkot.

What is a sukkah? Just a fragile hut with a leafy roof, the most vulnerable of houses. Vulnerable in time, where it lasts for only a week each year. Vulnerable in space, where its roof must be not only leafy but leaky — letting in the starlight, and gusts of wind and rain.

In every evening prayer, we plead with God – Ufros alenu sukkat shlomekha – “Spread over all of us Your sukkah of shalom.”

Why a sukkah?- Why does the prayer plead to God for a “sukkah of shalom” rather than God’s “tent” or “house” or “palace” of peace?

Precisely because the sukkah is so vulnerable.

For much of our lives we try to achieve peace and safety by building with steel and concrete and toughness:

  • Pyramids,
  • air raid shelters,
  • Pentagons,
  • World Trade Centers.

Hardening what might be targets and, like Pharaoh, hardening our hearts against what is foreign to us.

But the sukkah comes to remind us: We are in truth all vulnerable. If “a hard rain gonna fall,” it will fall on all of us.

Americans have felt invulnerable. The oceans, our wealth, our military power have made up what seemed an invulnerable shield. We may have begun feeling uncomfortable in the nuclear age, but no harm came to us. Yet yesterday the ancient truth came home: We all live in a sukkah.

Not only the targets of attack but also the instruments of attack were among our proudest possessions: the sleek transcontinental airliners. They availed us nothing. Worse than nothing.

Even the greatest oceans do not shield us; even the mightiest buildings do not shield us; even the wealthiest balance sheets and the most powerful weapons do not shield us.

There are only wispy walls and leaky roofs between us. The planet is in fact one interwoven web of life. The command to love my neighbor as I do myself is not an admonition to be nice: it is a statement of truth like the law of gravity. For my neighbor and myself are interwoven. If I pour contempt upon my neighbor, hatred will recoil upon me.

What is the lesson, when we learn that we – all of us – live in a sukkah? How do we make such a vulnerable house into a place of shalom, of peace and security and harmony and wholeness?

The lesson is that only a world where we all recognize our vulnerability can become a world where all communities feel responsible to all other communities. And only such a world can prevent such acts of rage and murder.

If I treat my neighbor’s pain and grief as foreign, I will end up suffering when my neighbor’s pain and grief curdle into rage.

But if I realize that in simple fact the walls between us are full of holes, I can reach through them in compassion and connection.

The perpetrators of this act of infamy seem to espouse a tortured version of Islam. Responding to them requires two different, though related, forms of action:

  1. Their violence must be halted. They must be found and brought to trial, without killing still more innocents and wrecking still more the fragile “sukkot” of lawfulness. There are in fact mechanisms of international law and politics that can bring them to justice.
  2. At the same time, America must open its heart and mind to the pain and grief of those in the Arab and Muslim worlds who feel excluded, denied, unheard, disempowered, defeated.

We must reach beyond the terrorists — to calm the rage that gave them birth by addressing the pain from which they sprouted.

From festering pools of pain and rage sprout the plague of terrorism. Some people think we must choose between addressing the plague or addressing the pools that give it birth. But we can do both — if we focus our attention on these two distinct tasks.

To go to war against whole nations does neither. It will not apprehend the guilty for trial, and probably not even seriously damage their networks. It will not drain the pools of pain and rage; it is far more likely to add to them.

What would it mean, instead, to recognize that both the United States and Islam live in vulnerable sukkot?

What do we need to do to recover our knowledge of the history of two centuries of Western colonization and neo-colonial support for oppressive regimes in much of the Muslim world?

How do we keep remembering that in all religious communities and traditions — including Judaism and Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism, as well as Islam — there are streaks of blood? How do we work with the peaceful majority in each community to grow past those messages of violence toward embodying the vision of compassion?  

How do we welcome Muslim societies fully into the planetary community?

What does the United States need to do to encourage grass-roots support for those elements of Islam that seek to renew the tradition?

How do we encourage not top-down regimes that make alliances with our own global corporations to despoil the planet, but grass-roots religious and cultural and political communities that seek to control their own resources in ways that nurture the earth?

Of course not every demand put forward by the poor and desperate and disempowered becomes legitimate, just because it is an expression of pain. But we must open the ears of our hearts to ask: Have we ourselves had a hand in creating the pain? Can we act to lighten it without increasing the over-all amount of pain in the world?

Instead of entering upon a “war of civilizations,” we must pursue a planetary peace. We must spread over all of us the sukkah of shalom.

A Review of “The Submission”

The Submission” by Amy Waldman, reviewed by Rabbi Jack Riemer

Do you remember what happened a few years ago when a group of Moslems wanted to build a mosque &mdash well, it was not exactly a mosque; it was more like a Jewish Community Center with a gym and classrooms as well as a place of prayer — at Ground Zero — well, it was not exactly at Ground Center, but it was meant to be built a few blocks away? The country went berserk. How dare they desecrate the sacred ground on which Moslems killed several thousand people and destroyed one of America’s iconic symbols? True, the Constitution provides freedom of religion for all, but so what? Does that justify this kind of an insult? Don’t the feelings of the families of those that died on 9/11 have priority over the Constitution?

For weeks, insults flew back and forth, as zealots on both sides called each other names, and the politicians tried to stake out a position that would straddle the conflicting claims of the public with the principle of freedom of religion.

The issue seems to have calmed down, at least for a while, since the people who were planning to build this mosque-or center-or whatever they will end up calling it if they ever build it — turned out not to be able to raise the money for it-at least not yet-and as the media turned its attention to other matters.

Amy Waldman wrote most of this novel before this bruha took place, but it raises the same kind of questions; Are American born Moslems entitled to their civil rights, or are they all to be stereotyped as terrorists out to kill us? Do those who lost loved ones on 9/11 have special claims on the memorial which is being built there, or are professional architects and artists the only ones who are capable of making aesthetic decisions? Are Jews entitled to suspect Moslems, in view of the fact that they have been the special targets of violence by Moslems in many countries, or should Jews be the defenders of civil rights for Moslems, because their own place in this country depends upon civil rights?

These are some of the questions that Amy Waldman deals with in this novel.  She gives no easy answers. Her characters are complex and ambivalent on these questions.

More after the jump.  
The central character is Mo Kahn — short for Mohammed — an assimilated architect whose parents came from India. He submits his proposal for a Memorial Garden to be built at Ground Zero, and, in a contest in which no names are allowed to accompany the submissions, he wins. And then he must justify his claim that his work is simply a work of art, and that it is not motivated by any desire to glorify the killers of 9/11 or even to pay tribute to Moslem Art.

As the issue heats up, Mo gradually changes his own attitude to his work and to this country. He starts out as an urbane, sophisticated liberal, who has no interest in, and no commitment to, Islam, but he is deeply offended that his work is being judged as Moslem propaganda when he believes deeply that he designed it with no such motive in mind. Little by little, in response to the attacks on him and on his work from the zealots, he begins to reconsider his heritage, and to insist on his right to be a Moslem American and on his right to be an architect who draws of many sources including Medieval Moslem Art, if he so wishes. He even goes to a mosque to pray, something that he has almost never done before in his life, perhaps to help determine for himself who he really is, or perhaps in order to defy those who are reviling him.

Another character in this novel is Claire Burwell, who is a wealthy woman, with some knowledge of art, whose husband died in the Twin Towers. She is the one who champions his submission in the first place, and she is the one who gradually persuades  the others on the panel to choosing it. But the more she sees the anger and the hysteria that the choice arouses, the more she is tempted to back down and take away the prize and given it to someone less controversial.

There is Paul Rubin, the politician, who only wants to make the furor go away so that it will not inflame the city and effect the next election. There is Sean Gallagher, a frustrated and angry man, whose brother died in the Twin Towers, and who sets out to lead a rebellion against the choice, so that he may have acquire and some importance for himself. And there is Asma Anwar, an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh, whose husband died on 9/11, and who only wants to stay in this country, and to be inconspicuous so that she will not be sent back, but who gets caught in the center of the controversy..

Amy Waldman brings these different characters, with their different agendas, together in this novel. They bounce against each other like billiard balls ricocheting. Sometimes they attack each other; sometimes they influence each other, and sometimes they seem like people caught in a tinderbox of conflicting emotions and intentions.

Ms. Waldman pits these characters, not only against each other, but also against their own inner drives and emotions. Each one reveals layer after layer of feeling, as the story spins out of control. At the end, we come away simply sick at the ugliness, the instability, and the chaos that manifested itself within so many of us in reaction to what happened on September 11th. We become aware through this novel of how angry, how unstable, how shocked and how vengeful we all felt in the aftermath of the events of that day. And we are forced to wonder and to worry about the question: Ten years after the calamity, have we healed yet, and if not, what will it take to restore sanity and stability, patience and calm, to us?

Novels do not usually set out to raise moral questions, but this one does. And the answer to these questions of have we recovered and have we purged ourselves from the trauma and the anger that 9/11 did to our souls,will come from what reactions this novel arouses. It is a gripping story, but it is meant to be more than just that. What kind of a country America will be will be determined, in some part, by how we come to terms with the trauma of this horrible event, whose tenth anniversary has now arrived. I hope that it does not take ten more years for us to calm down and to think rationally, instead of striking out in all directions, hurting the innocent, chasing the guilty, and injuring ourselves most of all. And I think that this book may help us in this task.

Rabbi Jack Riemer is a frequent reviewer of books of Jewish and General interest in America and abroad. He is the co editor of So That Your Values Live on: Ethical Wills and How to Prepare Them, and the editor of the three volumes of the The World of the High Holy Days.