Tuesday, September 14, 2021 10:29 PM
On the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that shocked the world, the annual remembrance ceremony was held at the Living Memorial in Jerusalem’s Cedar Valley (Emeq HaArazim).
“The terrorists made no distinction of race, nationality or religion. They had only one objective: to kill,” said KKL-JNF Vice Chairman Yair Lootsteen. “This memorial, which was created by KKL-JNF and JNF USA, symbolizes our shared struggle against terrorism and extremism. Together we shall build a future of hope.”
The 9\11 Living Memorial site was established in memory of the victims of the attack and as a plea for world peace. The monument at its center depicts the flag of the United States folded progressively into a flame, with a metal shard from the ruins of the Twin Towers incorporated into its base. This is the only site outside the United States that lists the names of all of the 2977 people who perished in the attack. Each name is engraved on stone tablets around the perimeter of the memorial plaza.
“We all remember where we were on that terrible day,” said JNF USA President Sol Lizerbram in a video message. “We went through the most appalling period, but we also saw humanity’s finest aspects. Now we need to pass the message on to members of the young generation.”
Five Israelis – Shai Levinhar, Alona Avraham, Daniel Levin, Hagai Shefi and Leon Libor – were among the victims of the 9/11 attack. Peres Avraham, father of the late Alona Avraham, said Kaddish in their memory.
Yehudit Levinhar related with great pain how, every time additional remains of her son’s body are identified, the family holds another funeral. “We’ve buried Shai four times now. Each funeral tears away another portion of my heart as another piece of me is buried with him. Shai, you are with us and we are with you, and that’s how it will be always.”
The memorial ceremony was conducted by Yael Levontin, who told those assembled: “It’s comforting to know that the memory of those who perished strengthens us: their stories give us courage, and their legacy will be preserved for the generations to come.”
Representatives of KKL-JNF, JNF USA and the Israel Fire and Rescue Services, and ambassadors and diplomats from all over the world were among the guests at the ceremony, together with family members of the victims. The event took place in accordance with Covid-19 regulations, and restrictions were observed to protect the health of participants.
“Twenty years have passed since that day when thousands of our citizens were murdered together with citizens of other countries, including Israel,” said Michael Ratney, chargé d'affaires at the US embassy. “We are gathered here today because we all feel an obligation to remember them. Out of respect for those who died we shall strengthen the friendship between us and protect our shared values.”
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was among the honored guests at the ceremony. “The recollection of that terrible disaster still lives on in the hearts of people all over the world,” he said. “We need to perpetuate the memory of the combatants and the victims and remember that the war on terrorism and those who disseminate hatred is not over. It is a combined struggle on the part of all of us who believe in democratic values.”
At the end of the ceremony the representatives of the various organizations laid wreaths at the foot of the memorial, and the families and their guests placed flowers on the wall beside the names of their loved ones. The red roses covered the wall in a tangible expression of yearning for those who are no longer alive. Beams of light illuminated the memorial from afar as darkness descended, symbolizing both power and hope.