Thursday, September 8th, was filled with Star Spangled Banner stickers and three iconic colors: red, white, and blue. All the students in Ben Lipson High School proudly wore their country’s colors on a remembrance day of the 9/11 tragedy. The 300+ students filed into the gymnasium as the band members warmed up their instruments, a sense of purpose filling the air. Although these students did not live through this traumatic incident, the high school assembly transported everyone to that day, twenty-one years ago.
After the Pledge of Allegiance, silence overtook the room as the student band played the national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner. Then, footsteps echoing, two students, Samuel Attias and Shalom Lev Meisels, were invited to talk about the events of September 11, 2001. They relayed the circumstances of that day, giving the audience background information and vivid facts that showed the crowd the importance of remembering the victims of this terrorist attack.
After Rabbi Shlomo Sprung charismatically spoke about the events, Rabbi Elie Ganz told a personal story, in which he recounted personally seeing the smoke rising from the damaged towers. His speech had a moral: there is beauty in everything, even if sometimes it’s hard to find it. Rabbi Ganz revealed how everyone in New York that day came together to help each other, whether it was by handing out water bottles or clean socks, New Yorkers – despite their differences – were united and stood together against the threat to their homeland.
Rabbi Ari Leubitz, Head of School, ended the ceremony with words about sticking together in order to overcome obstacles and how this is especially essential to Jews, who have suffered tremendously in the past and still do today.
Eli Goldin proved how touched the students were by this message when he said, “The assembly we had today was very heartwarming as we gathered together as a community to mourn the events of 9/11 while cherishing the freedoms we have and our strength in numbers.” This admission describes the sentiments of not just one person, but many, as Sarah Chelminsky puts it, “I felt proud to be American today…the assembly really showed everyone the importance of standing together as a family against other threats.”
The 9/11 tragedy is a moral that demonstrates how people may come from different places and speak in different tongues, but at the end of the day, the assembly taught the high school students that differences should be embraced and strengths should be supported in order to prepare for hurdles in the track of life.