During this thirteenth anniversary of 9/11, I returned to a collection of stories about that horrific day. There is one story among many that stands out for me. It’s entitled “A Chassid’s Wedding on 9/11/01.” Like any true story, its meaning cannot be reduced to a simple explanation. But as I read this story this year, it reminds me that we must refuse to allow terror to dictate our live or to permit fear to control our inner emotions. Each of us can choose how we respond to evil in the world. Even in times of darkness and despair, we can bring light and faith into the world.
A Chassid’s Wedding on 9/11/01….Dovi Scheiner speaks:
“On my wedding morning, I got up at five o’clock. I had all this excited energy. I went to the synagogue to pray. At about 9:30 someone came over and looked at me with disdain and said, ‘You’re sitting here and studying. Do you have any idea what’s going on outside?’
We went up to the roof and saw the two towers burning. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It took time for me to remember it was my wedding day.
A wedding day in Judaism is not just a party. It’s a spiritual day, a union of two souls. It’s the day I’d been counting down to since I met Etsy. Now, the harshest reality had crashed into that day.
I didn’t know what to do. I kept asking everyone, ‘How can I get married tonight?’People said, ‘You’re the groom. You have to be happy.’ But that didn’t answer how I could be happy.
I went home to get dressed for my wedding, but I couldn’t. I broke down crying. How was I supposed to dance when so many people were dead or dying?
Finally, I called a rabbi who has helped me in other times. He said to me, ‘It’s not about happiness in the face of sadness, but good versus evil, about darkness versus light.’ He explained that what had happened was the epitome of evil, and that celebrating didn’t mean I was indifferent, or just going on with my party. He said that Etsy and I were on our way to perform a righteous act. That clicked for me. I had a mission to play in this drama going on around me.
We got married on a big porch. During the ceremony, we faced east and the guests faced west. Behind us, in back of the chupa, smoke filled the sky. Later, people told me it was a horrific scene. But Etsy and I never realized it.”