Dear Friends,

Today, September 11th, we remember the terrible tragedy that befell this nation 16 years ago. We witnessed barbaric hatred that claimed over 3,000 innocent lives. Yet in the midst of our national pain and suffering we experienced incredible nation achdus (unity).

We saw the images of brave police officers and firemen running into the burning towers to save the lives of others. We remember the bravery of the passengers on Flight 93 who fought with terrorists and prevented an even greater loss of life. We were united in our grief for the lives shattered and united in our resolve to never surrender to terror. We pledged as a nation to continue to be the bearers of light in the face of those who would try to bring darkness to all corners of the free world. 

Unfortunately, since that dark day 16 years ago we have seen more acts of terror and hatredWe live in difficult times. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have brought havoc upon many of our fellow citizens. Political discord and lack of civility on both sides of the aisle have created an atmosphere of animosity and hatred. We have seen a dramatic increase in anti-Semitic speech and actions, xenophobia and a general intolerance of those who are different. It shouldn’t take a terror attack to unite us. On this day we remember what we have lost but we also remember the beautiful feelings of patriotism and unity we experienced as all of us, the citizens of this great country, felt part of something bigger than ourselves. We drew close to one another, because we needed one another. 

On this day when we remember the innocent lives which have been lost, let us each try to do something to increase national cohesion and unity. If you see a police officer, thank him/her for their service. If you pass by a homeless person, give them some change or something to eat. Take a few moments to donate to one of the various Hurricane Relief funds. 

We are sometimes accused of having a dual allegiance. It is an absolutely true accusation. We love our ancestral homeland of Eretz Yisroel, for our national past, present, and future is intertwined with its precious soil. At the same time, we love the United States of America for the beautiful and magnificent freedoms it has given us. We are forever spiritual citizens of the Land of Israel, but we feel incredibly privileged to be citizens of this great land, the United States of America. The heart of the Jew has the capacity for boundless love. 

May God watch over the souls who were lost and provide consolation to the grieving families. May God watch over our brave men and women of the armed forces who continuously fight evil wherever it may be. May God provide us the strength to unite as a nation and overcome internal and external adversity. May God give us, the citizens of the great land, the resolve to be the bearers of light and drive away the darkness. 

 As we stand in the final days of this year, we pray for the day when evil and bloodshed will cease to exist and the community of mankind will come together in an everlasting covenant of peace and respect. 

With wishes for peace and final redemption,

Rabbi Shmuel Silber