The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 16 November 2002 / 11 Kislev 5763

From Twin Towers to Jerusalem Yeshiva

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The shock of 9/11 touched everyone in one way or other. Most deeply affected were those in the front lines of rescue work, the members of the Fire Department of New York.

Many of these courageous firefighters lost their lives while attempting to rescue the people trapped in the collapsing buildings. For others the trauma of losing a score of comrades and being so intensely involved in the life and death struggle to evacuate the victims changed their lives.

One of them was a young Orthodox Jew (name withheld upon request) who arrived at Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem shortly before the first anniversary of the disaster. Trained as a paramedic, he was giving emergency medical treatment to evacuees when the towers collapsed. When someone is so close to death, he confided to the head of the yeshiva, he starts to seriously reconsider the priorities in his life. He recalled the months he spent studying in an Israeli yeshiva upon graduating from a yeshiva high school in the New York area and decided that it would be a good idea to recharge his spiritual batteries by returning to study Torah in Israel once the Fire Department allowed him to take a leave of absence.

One of the sad souvenirs which he carries with him from the 9/11 experience is a book on public speaking which he found among the ruins. Whenever he opens it he can still smell the stench that filled the nostrils of all who were involved in that heroic rescue mission. Now he is opening other sorts of books those on Torah subjects which will enhance his understanding of life and his dedication to saving lives.

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