When I was in New York last week, I prowled Ground Zero.
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Typically an outspoken political activist, Rabbi Avi Weiss struggles for the right words when it comes to talking about Ground Zero.
I had not intended to go to New York. Instead, after having helped launch Los Angeles's Threat Preparedness Task Force, my focus for the past several weeks had been on practical measures that our city can implement to be better prepared in the event of a catastrophe. My brother, who now lives in Brooklyn, had suggested that I travel to New York and visit Ground Zero to develop a firsthand understanding of the urgency of my work. Although I believed that the media had made me well aware of the scope of the devastation in the financial district, I followed his advice and flew to JFK.
While the pain of the Sept. 11 attacks still churns like the smoke and dust that continue to rise out of Ground Zero, eight weeks has done something to begin our healing process.
Some of the rawness of our national wound is beginning to abate, allowing us to use the clarity and insight of the still-sharp lens of grief to encounter the big questions about God and humanity that the terrorists threw into our faces.
The questions, of course, are hardly new: How can we square the lethal expression of mass evil with our notion of a compassionate God? Were the attacks the hand of God, God's withdrawal from humanity, or simply the nature of God's universe?
September 11, 2001.
This morning, America woke up to the same nightmare that my parents did on February 6, 1985. On that morning, my parents in Los Angeles heard the news that a suicide bomber had attacked an Israel Defense Forces convoy in Southern Lebanon. Reports of casualties varied from 50 injured to 100 killed. My parent's ultimate nightmare was that their son, who had enlisted in the IDF seven months earlier, was a part of the convoy that had been attacked.