During Elul we consider ways to improve ourselves on many levels—personally, locally, and nationally. Today many of us are thinking of the attack that shook our nation eleven years ago. On September 11, 2001, New York became America’s city. Eleven years ago we were living in Jerusalem when the planes hit the World Trade Center towers. For a little while, as Americans living in Israel, we were considered kindred spirits. We (finally) understood what it was like living in Israel, living in perpetual fear of the next attack, the next explosion, the next silence disrupted by a cacophony of cell phones going off as relatives check in. Israel already gets it, and for a while they embraced us as we wondered what was happening in our home country. September 11, 2001 taught me that in the face of tragedy it is our responsibility as Jews and as human beings to embrace each other and lend strength to those who need it.
Elul is a time for introspection, and September 11 is a day to embrace our community. Whether we live in New York, Jerusalem, or anywhere else, we know we are a part of something bigger, something greater than us.