This piece was first published as “A Jewish memorial to WTC victims” in The Times of Israel.
It was the troubling current state of world affairs that prompted Rabbi Irwin Kula to post online this past Wednesday a recording he made back in 2002, on the first anniversary of 9/11. The recording is of Kula chanting an excerpt from a transcript of final voicemail messages left by victims of the terrorist attacks. He uses the cantillation trop for the biblical Book of Lamentations (Eicha), which Jews traditionally recite annually on Tisha B’Av to mourn the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Kula, president of CLAL – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, had chanted the voicemail messages publicly on a number of occasions in the years since September 11, 2001, but this time he decided to post it on a popular blog he co-writes with his colleagueRabbi Brad Hirschfield.
“Here we are 12 years later and there is violence and war. The world is not any safer today,” lamented Kula in a phone interview with The Times of Israel. “The world is far more destabilized.”
“And as a rabbi, I look at Eicha as a response to destruction. It is an expression of mourning, but it is also a reflective question. Eicha is Hebrew for ‘how’ – how has this happened?” Kula said. “We did not ask that question. We just responded, and now we are worse off.”
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© 2013 Renee Ghert-Zand. All rights reserved.