After 9-11: The boy who lost his father

On 9-11

I watched the 9-11 terror attacks on the large screen TV at the Cleveland Hillel, where I was very active as a Jewish student at CWRU. I watched the attacks and could barely comprehend that they were happening in the real world. “Numb” isn’t quite the right word to describe my feelings during those hours… mostly, I felt… blank?

Then, at a certain point, it dawned on me that my parents and brother lived close enough to NYC to potentially be affected by the events of 9-11. It wasn’t very likely because they lived and worked in central NJ, but…

I walked over to the Hillel office and dialed my parents’ home phone number. My father answered the phone and reassured me that they were, indeed, okay. We spoke briefly, and then I walked back to the lounge to watch the news unfold.

That’s pretty much all that I remember.

A few years later

Several years later, as a graduate student at Rutgers University in NJ, I was teaching part-time at the Hebrew school that I had attended as a child in East Brunswick, NJ (“Hebrew school” is an after-school program for Jewish kids at their synagogues.)

I was teaching seventh grade Holocaust studies, and I was the “cool, young teacher” (there wasn’t any competition for that position).

Just before the very start of the school year, I remember the Hebrew School principal telling me about a particular boy in my class who had lost his father to the 9-11 terror attacks. His father had worked as a securities trader on the 104th floor office in the World Trade Center, and his tower took the first hit in the terror attack.

My student was the oldest of three children, and he had been 9-years-old when his father perished. His younger sister had been 7-years-old, and his younger brother had only been three-years-old.

The boy’s story shook me; that was the closest I’ve ever come to anyone that had lost a family member in the 9-11 attacks. I remember observing him in my classroom throughout that year… I was constantly hyper-aware of the boy’s moods and behaviors. I recall that he always wore dark clothing, sat quietly at the back of the room, and had a biting sense of humor – I really enjoyed his presence in my class.

Oh… and I also remember that he was very protective of his younger sister who was two years younger. He would always walk out with her to their mother’s car when Hebrew school ended.

Some time not long after that school year began, I visited the 9-11 memorial in East Brunswick, NJ, which was dedicated to the eight local victims of those terror attacks… The names of the eight victims were etched into the two little stone towers representing the WTC. That’s how I learned his father’s name.

51 thoughts on “After 9-11: The boy who lost his father”

  1. Thank for sharing David. 9-11 has hit so many of us in so many ways. I think cruelest way is with that boy and his siblings. It is hard enough for us as adults to process what happened, but to be a child and loose a parent like that.

  2. Thank you for sharing this touching story of what 9-11 brings to your mind. We each have our images, don’t we? I was awakened early that morning in CA by our daughter in Europe who said, “Turn on your TV!!!” We did… and it was just before the second plane hit. Shock and disbelief, tears and anger, fear and prayers all mixed in a blur as my husband and I watched in horror. In today’s world, I recall that day each morning as I end my devotional time with the prayer of Rev. Mychal Judge, NY Fire Chief who died on 9-11 in the brave line of duty. His daily prayer that he shared with his fellow fire fighters was, “Lord, take me where You want me to go today; Let me meet who You want me to meet; Tell me what You want me to say, and keep me out of Your way.” Yes, like Rev. Judge, I want to walk in His Way… but not be in the way of people seeing my Lord in the things I do and say. Mychal Judge was just one of 2,977 who were killed that day. Nineteen hijackers committed murder-suicide, and more than 6,000 others were injured. The deadliest terrorist act in world history has left its legacy in the heart of the USA and the world. Help us, Lord, never to forget those brave heroes who died in the line of duty and honor that day!

          1. Sure! Lov and Kush are the sons– identical twins– of Lord Rama, who is worshipped by Hindus. I have an identical twin brother, hence my name! Regards

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