Rabbi Elizabeth S. Wood

Rabbi Elizabeth S. Wood
Celebrating Havdallah

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Last year, at this time, I wrote a post about what it meant to me to be in NY for the first time, remembering 9/11. You can read it here.

This year, the significance of the day has blown me away. It has been a decade. Ten years since our nation, our world, changed. Ten years since I sat with friends and watched our TV screens as the news unfolded. Ten years since we rallied as a community to pray, to heal, to sort through the literal and figurative debris of the mess that was left behind from that tragic day.

On Friday night, we had a service commemorating 9/11. We read pieces from the URJ website, the RAC website, and our prayerbook, Mishkan Tefillah. Reverend Julie Taylor, the Executive Director of Disaster Chaplaincy Services in New York City, spoke to us about the impact of that day and the tremendous efforts that her organization provided in the aftermath. It was moving and painful, all at the same time, to relive so much of that day.

Today, Sunday, was the first day of Religious School. The building was bustling and hustling with the sound of excitement and laughter (a few sobs from some nervous or scared kids, to be expected) and the building was overflowing with people. It filled my heart to see so many familiar faces, so many new ones, and such excitement and joy. As always, we had a worship service at the end of the day, and we took a moment to talk about heros, honor and making our world a better place.

Detective Yvette Maldonado (MSW) a 2nd grade level det. was present during our service. Dressed in the uniform she wore on 9/11/01, she stood with our kids on the bimah as they led our service. She stood as we spoke of the many heros and the fallen victims of September 11th. She stood as we spoke of the beauty and honor in our world that can be born out of ugliness and tragedy. We are so proud of Detective Maldonado, our congregant and friend, who used her social work background and her professional training at the NYPD to support families and victims on that horrific day and during the days and months that followed. A true hero, in our midst. What a wonderfully affirming day for our religious school children, to see such a role model and such a strong woman who did so much for our community and for NYC.

This day, these past few days, have been so moving and so emotional. So I end with a prayer: I pray that these children begin today with a sense of awe, excitment, hope, and wonder. I pray that these children grow up in a time and place where their fears are the normal fears of childhood, and not the fears of the world around them. I pray that we adults can support and nurture these children to become independent, responsible, compassionate, productive, and kind adults. I pray that these children live in a world that knows beauty and peace.

May this be G-d's will.