This Friday will mark nineteen years since the horrific terrorist attacks that cut short the lives of almost 3,000 people in the United States. Every year Americans from all walks of life attend one of the many memorial ceremonies held in the United States on September 11th. Israelis also mourn this tragic event, together with Americans. The US Embassy in Israel holds an annual commemorative service at one of the most moving memorials to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 9/11 Living Memorial, near Jerusalem.
Several Israelis were killed in the September 11th tragedy: Daniel Lewin, Leon Lebor, Hagai Shevi, Shai Levinhar, and Alona Avraham are counted among 2,980 that perished.
Former US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, who served under President Obama in Israel for six years (2011 – 2017) officiated at US Embassy ceremonies during his tenure as ambassador. “Israelis, who have lived with the constant threat and reality of terrorism, understand perhaps better than anyone else the trauma that Americans experienced on 9/11,” said Ambassador Shapiro. “This moving memorial is not only a tribute to those we lost, but an expression of solidarity between the people of Israel and the United States,” he continued.
The Living memorial is situated on the outskirts of Jerusalem in an isolated area overlooking the beautiful Jerusalem hills as well as Israel’s main highway 1. Created by Eliezer Weishoff, the impressive sculpture stands at 30 feet tall and consists of a bronze American flag shaped into a waving memorial flame. The memorial is unlike any of the many memorials built around the world that also commemorate this same event. “It is the only 9/11 memorial outside the United States that lists the names of all who were killed”, said Ambassador Shapiro.
The power of the site is very intense as well and further underscores the grief that is shared by Israelis. “No American visitor, having seen the names, the pieces of the World Trade Center, and the sculpture of the American flag billowing toward the sky like an eternal flame, can come away without feeling the deep embrace of the Israeli people”, continued Shapiro.
While the Living Memorial can be seen from a distance just north of the entrance to Jerusalem, accessing the site takes time and not many groups are aware of the sites existence nor the strong emotional experience of seeing it up close. Just before the onset of COVID19, Ambassador Shapiro spoke to a Travelujah group from Florida at the site about the strong US-Israel relationship. He feels strongly about speaking to groups specifically at the memorial site because it is an important reminder that Americans and Israelis stand together and have a shared commitment to the future.
“The setting the artistry, the care and the details and the emotions it evokes”, said Shapiro, “make the 9/11 memorial one of the most meaningful stops on any trip to Israel.”
Israelis understand the pain Americans feel on this very somber 19th anniversary. We stand together with America and we mourn this incredible loss of human life.