As stated in my first post (http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/israel-teaching-fellow/), in addition to currently living in Israel, I have lived abroad before in London. Being in Israel is now the second time that I have been out of the US on September 11th.
September 11th was hardly talked about in London when I was there in 2010. The night before, I was hanging out with one of the girls in my internship program. The girl, whom I refer to as the Dandelion, and I had spent the night at ICEBAR London, hopped the last train of the night back to our town of Kensington, grabbed KFC for a snack and then headed back to the lounge in our dorm to watch TV. Once midnight had hit, we had changed the channel from whatever we were watching to some channel showing various 9/11 documentaries as it was now September 11th. We discussed where we had been on that day and how the world had changed since. Shortly after 5:00AM, we both headed upstairs to bed.
September 11th wasn’t mentioned again until Monday the 13th when the Dandelion and I went to a free comedy show and one of the comedians asked the Americans to raise their hands. After the Dandelion, myself and a few other Americans raised their hands, the comedian wished us a happy 9/11. My mouth dropped open in shock, but England is a country that has dealt with the Blitz, the July 7th, 2005 bombings, the 2006 Liquid Bomb Plot and constant bomb threats. Is 9/11 just an afterthought for a country that deals with constant terror threats?
Of course, Israel knows the story of constant terror threats all too well. The Israel Teaching Fellows from Beit She’an, Netanya and our respective madrichim gathered today near the beach to learn about Yom Kippur. Before we discussed it, we spoke a little bit about September 11th, 2001–where we were, how we feel now and so on. I don’t know anyone who perished in the attacks and I’ve never lived in New York, so I don’t talk too much about 9/11. Even still, I will never understand why no one ever talks about Massachusetts on 9/11; the two airplanes that hit the World Trade Center both departed from Logan Airport. I rarely fly these days, but 9/11 does weigh heavily on my mind whenever I fly out of Boston.
September 11th also weighs heavily on my mind today being that I’m in Israel. This tiny country is constantly dealing with terror threats. My madrich told the two ITF groups today how on 9/11, he was shocked that it had happened to America, but that there were many suicide bombings in Netanya that year, so he was used to hearing about terror plots. This country IS used to them. Never in my 24 years spent in Massachusetts have I ever had to think about getting killed in a mall or a market due to a bomb. Israelis have to think about this every day. American media will never talk about this when they talk about Israel, but I will because I live here now. I may never fully understand why people are constantly trying to attack my new home, but I can do my best to try.
Today marks another year since that horrific day in America 12 years ago. If I were in Massachusetts right now, I’d probably have the TV on, watch the tributes and see all the inevitable Facebook statuses about today. But today in Netanya, I saw that life goes on. I got to work with my students for the first time today and while these kids were born after 9/11, they live in a country where the threat of terror constantly enters their minds. They didn’t show that today. They were nothing short of amazing and I couldn’t ask for more perfect students. My students deserve perfect. The world will never be that way, but I hope that someday it can be pretty close.
I think of Jerusalem especially today with their Living Memorial, the only place outside of the US that has the names of all the victims of 9/11, in addition to their countries of origin. This memorial also has a piece of the damaged World Trade Center in it, being that Jerusalem is New York City’s sister city.
As my home country continues to recover from the physical, emotional and financial losses it has continued to suffer these past 12 years, I can try and take solace from the Israelis here, for they continue to show me that life does does indeed go cruelly and beautifully on.