Finding a deeper connection to 9/11
I have always had trouble feeling connected to 9/11. Like every other American, I remember where I was and what I was doing when I found out about the attack (high school band class), but the wave of nationalism following 9/11 affected me more than the actual event, and my memories reflect that distinction. I did not know anyone that was killed, lost a loved one, or helped in the rescue or cleanup efforts, and every year I struggle to find a personal connection to that day. This year Rabbi Irwin Kula's haunting recording of 9/11 voicemails set to Eicha trope gave me that connection, and left me holding back tears in my office.
Rabbi Irwin Kula took the last messages of 9/11 victims, recently released in a book, and set the voicemails to Eicha trope, a chant that reminds me of shul. The result is overwhelmingly emotional. The chanting, which is at once familiar, comforting, sorrowful, and spiritual, adds a certain depth to the already heartbreaking last words of 9/11 victims. Not understanding Hebrew, it was always the trope and sound of Hebrew prayer that connected me to my feelings of Judaism and spirituality. Today, that same trope connects me to 9/11.
If you choose to listen to the recording, be forwarned that it is incredibly heavy, and keep some tissues on hand.