After the Second Intifada, our parents realized they needed to bring more Jews into the world. There was too much destruction to not act in some way. Yes, the Second Intifada is what sparked me getting another younger sibling to boss around. Then you were born on 9/11. Mommy was left in the hallway while doctors and nurses ran to watch the news. Upon seeing what happened in the city she loved most, the city where she grew up, she cried over the sick images on the TV that clashed so drastically with the sight of this beautiful baby boy. Everyone always says what a horrible day it is to have been born. Year after year, we’ve felt uncomfortable throwing parties, not knowing how to balance memorials and celebrations.

You obviously didn’t understand what 9/11 was like for the rest of the country because you were just a newborn alien mush. Once you got a little older, we would tell you that your birthday is also the day two tall buildings fell in New York because of bad people. Thirteen years later, you’re becoming bar mitzvahed or “becoming a man,” as they say. Your bar mitzvah, however, goes beyond that. It is a symbol of continuity, despite the threats we, as civilized western individuals, still face. Now you are mature enough to understand what this day means on a much deeper level, and why everyone is posting things like #WeRemember and #WeWillNeverForget. I’m sorry, baby, but they’re not referring to sending you a “Happy B-day” text at midnight. They are talking about the worst terror attack America has experienced, the day thousands lost their lives, and will thus be tainted forever.

Nonetheless, anytime someone makes a comment about how unlucky it is to have a birthday today, mommy answers sharply by saying that you were the miracle of it. Clearly, she held back her tears and found some of the positive. Negative Nancy is the least fitting nickname for this particular Nancie. You were the pure good on a day of sheer evil. They named you Yitzchak Chai, that you shall laugh and live. You were born on a day of crying and death, but in the memory of those who perished you will laugh and live until 120.

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