first posted January 24, 2012
Jewish Values Online (jewishvaluesonline.org) is a website that asks the Jewish view on a variety of issues, some specifically Jewish and some from the world around us -- and then presents answers from each of the dominations of Judaism. Nishmablog's Blogmaster Rabbi Wolpoe serves as an Orthodox member of their Panel of Scholars, offering answers from our perspective.
This post is part of a weekly series on the Nishmablog presenting the questions to which he responded and the answers that he gave.
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Question: As Jews, what is an appropriate way to commemorate the anniversary of the September 11 attacks?
Rabbi Wolpoe's answer
My first instinct would be to look at history. How did American Jews observe the anniversary of December 7th, 1941, "a date that will live in Infamy"?
Personally, I am prone to using the Hebrew Date - namely the 23rd of Elul. This maps out precisely to ONE WEEK before the Jewish New Year of Rosh Hashanah [R"H]. In fact 9/11 was the 3rd day of the Ashkenazic S'lichot season, while S'phardim had started weeks earlier. Perhaps a S'lichah or Kina [elegy] would be apropos - see Below
Of course many Jews will join secular commemorations.
If we set up our own Jewish Program, then I don't think we need a specific prayer ritual, so much as an outline of "which bases to cover"
Here is an outline I hope is helpful.
1. Psalms to fit the occasion
2 Appropriate selections from the Scroll of Eichah or other Kinot lamenting similar tragedies
3. A speech or sermon discussing what happened and reflecting upon the aftermath.
4. Memorial Prayers for those who fell - E.G. "Keil Maleh Rachamim"
5. Perhaps prayers for protection in the future E.G.
6. Psalms 121, 130
In the long run, the memory of Sept. 11, 2001 may begin to fade as did the memory of 12/07/1941. And perhaps that is as it should be. While the. survivors are with us however, it is fitting to observe the anniversary of this tragedy.