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Rabbi Irwin Kula Headshot

Sacred Memories: A 9/11 Ritual

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I live in New York City. Two friends, including someone at whose wedding I had recently been the rabbi died in the World Trade Center. The acrid smell came through my apartment windows for days and sacred ashes, which I wiped away with tears, fell on my window sills for weeks.

My children who were 13 and 10 at the time were cut off from me and my wife as they could not get home from school on 9/11 because the subways were closed. The father of one of my daughter's playmates from the time she was a toddler was killed on 9/11. The fear we felt was unforgettable and the innocence our kids lost forever so very sad.

So what message would I like to send out today 9/11? What memories do I want to preserve and wisdom do I want to learn at least for today? No words at all. Simply the following chant (using an ancient melody used to chant the Biblical book of Lamentations which describes the destruction of Jerusalem) of actual final cell phone conversations of people, who in the face of terror and the dearness of the vanishing moment, showed no anger or any desire for revenge but simply and heroically witnessed a yearning to love and the faith that love ultimately swallows up death.

Listen to the chant here

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