Eighteen. It’s a number that has a huge relevance in life for many peoples, including those of my tribe, in Judaism. Turning 18 signifies so much in our cultural life in America: The ability to vote, the ability do many things as an adult for the first time (play the Lottery was always a big one for me), and most people really feel like a grown-up at 18.
The number 18 has been in my mind this week because today is September 11, of course, and it’s now been, unfathomably, 18 years since two airplanes struck the World Trade Center on a beautiful Tuesday morning in New York City.
Which means that a child born on 9/11/01 is starting college this year, having lived their entire life in a post-9/11 world.
Mind-boggling to me. Because when I close my eyes I can still see all the images from that day, the confusion, the panic, the sheer “what the $*#*@*$ is going on?” on the faces of all my fellow New Yorkers.
Never in a million years would I have thought, 18 years later, we’d still be fighting in Afghanistan, still have American soldiers dying in a war that started nearly two decades ago.
All we can do is not let the passage of time dim our memories of the heroes, and tragic figures, of that day.
And today, take a few minutes to think about the sacrifice so many have made, trying to protect our freedoms since that horrible day.
**Next up today, it’s been rare to see the Democratic Presidential candidates all appear in the same ad, and with the next Presidential debate Thursday night (one I’m eagerly anticipating, and hoping for great performances from Kamala Harris and Cory Booker), I thought it was very timely that this ad was released this week.
Featuring most of the top contenders, and dealing with the very real but ignored by our Congress issue of gun violence, it’s powerful, and it’s fantastic.
**Finally today, I would normally save this for Good News Friday, but since this week is a different, special GNF I do every year at this time, I wanted to make sure I ran this now.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize in April for its outstanding coverage of the Tree of Life Synagogue massacre in 2018. With the prize comes an award of $15,000, and at first the journalists at the paper weren’t sure what to do with it, or how to divide it up.
So they came up with a fantastic, heartwarming solution: They donated it to the synagogue that had suffered so much, to help rebuild it.
The newspaper’s executive editor, Keith Burris, in presenting the check to the temple, said these words at the ceremony on Aug. 29:
“Rabbi Myers, when the unthinkable happened at Tree of Life, it was our job to tell the story.
And to tell the backstory.
We did our duty.
It was our honor to do it.
Nothing about doing our duty makes us noble or exceptional.
But the DUTY ITSELF was and is noble.
Now we share with you another duty: TO REMEMBER.
And to assure that Pittsburgh, the United States, and all the world, REMEMBERS.
We feel bound to you and your congregations – by memory and duty.
And we offer you, in humility, our service – as scribes and witnesses.
We wish Tree of Life to have this gift – the newspaper’s cash award for the Pulitzer Prize for spot news – as a sign of this bond and this service. We give it as a modest contribution toward the repair and rebuilding of the congregation’s physical plant.
Really wonderful gesture that I’m certain will be remembered long after the people who won the Pulitzer are gone.