OP-ED: In the year of L’Chaim

By ALAN SMASON

September 11 marked 18 years since the dastardly attack on American soil by foreigners in which more than 3,000 of our citizens’ lives were snuffed out by cowards intent on dismantling our union. The towers that fell that day in Manhattan, the damage to the Pentagon Washington and the failed flight downed in Pennsylvania, which was intended to wreak even more death and destruction in our nation’s capital, are remembered today as symbols of our loss.

The intervening 18 years have seen changes in leadership in the White House and in Congress, but the America that once stood united against a common foe in the aftermath of the attacks has since become fractured, highly charged and decidedly divisive.

Today, 18 years later, we are a country where hate is rampant on social media and where we acknowledge our differences in racial background and religious upbringing first, rather than the areas of commonality we share as fellow Americans. Indeed, news of mass killings have become so commonplace and life so callously regarded that those of us who survive them have become conditioned to accept this as the necessary price of our liberty.

This should never be the case.

The Hebrew letters of “hay” and “yud” have the numerical value of “8” and “10” respectively. Together they form the word L’chaim, which means “life.” That is why Jewish gifting is oftentimes made in multiples of 18 as a means of reinforcing the importance of life and the high value we place upon it.

September 11 should be a day to remember the tragic victims, but also to show to the world that no matter how fractious we may become socially, politically or economically, we are first and foremost Americans. United under the promise of a great nation, we Americans know that no matter what external forces are exerted upon us, we shall rise up to meet them and come back stronger than before.

On this 18th anniversary of our national tragedy, we say “God Bless America!” and “To Life! L’Chaim!”

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