Day of Attunement

Observing 9-11 The Jewish Way

There may be more of Yom Kippur in 9-11 than meets the media's eye. Consider the decision to suspend Broadway shows, and the impulse to curtail flying on that day. Both are practical responses that also resonate with Jewish tradition. Though the schools will be open and the labors of life will go on, I suspect there will be an implicit pause in these routines. People will be glued to television, which is as close to contemplation as many Americans get. Selling will abate and entertainment will recede before an array of ceremonial words and images. The absence of rhythms that are usually provided by the march of shows and ads will have a hypnotic effect, not unlike an Andy Warhol film. But in this movie, the icon will be missing. Is there anything more Jewish than worshiping at a ruin?

A menorah of one's own: getting beyond the sanctioned mandate of righteousness and renewal
photo: Cary Conover
A menorah of one's own: getting beyond the sanctioned mandate of righteousness and renewal

What if everything stopped on 9-11, just as it did during the attack? What if we took the day as an occasion to stroll the streets, to be with our families, to reflect or pray? Of course, I don't expect people to turn off the TV. (Are we not Americans?) But there's a way to watch the pageant without giving in to its obfuscating tropes. If we resist righteousness, we may discover acuity; 9-11 can become a Day of Attunement. I'll sound the shofar to that.

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