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Sep 11 2012

How Do You Talk to Your Kids About 9/11?

By at 1:37 pm
twin towers new york city

Via Flickr/Sander Lamme

“The flag is at half-mast today,” I tell my boys, pointing to the flagpole in front of the school this morning. “Do you know what that means?”

“That someone died?” my second grader asks, hoping he’s correct.

I explain that it was far more than one someone–that today is September 11th, the 11th anniversary of thousands of people being murdered by terrorists. I am trying to walk the fine line between scaring the crap out of the kids and letting them know that today is a day whose horror resonates and rings like a bell in a clear blue sky. They are just little children, after all. They weren’t even an idea when this all happened. To them, September 11th feels like history. To me, it feels like yesterday.

The flag is at half-mast. It isn’t enough. Read the rest of this entry →

Sep 9 2011

Remembering 9/11

By at 12:03 pm

The 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks is this Sunday. Although Jews don’t usually acknowledge tenth anniversaries any differently from others, this one will be different, if for no other reason than the media is giving it a lot of press. Needless to say, it’s on my mind.

If I didn’t have children, I would probably spend some time this year remembering the attacks, mourning the many, many losses our country sustained on that terrible day, and feeling angry—mostly at those who would perpetrate such terror, but also at those who use this tragedy as an excuse for further acts of hatred and discrimination.

But I do have kids now, so my focus has shifted away from my own reactions. The girls are still young, so I’m not yet worried about how I will talk to them about what happened that day, and how our country has changed since then. But this anniversary has made me think about how terrorism (both the events of 9/11 and the resulting war on terror) has impacted me, both as a person and as a parent.  It’s difficult to put words to it, though. In fact, it’s hard for me to remember the tone of our national discourse before the fall of 2001. I was living in Albuquerque, starting my graduate degree in social work. I had just begun dating the man who is now my husband. I was just figuring out who I was, and who I would become, and the aftermath of 9/11 is so deeply intertwined with my growth in adulthood that I can’t disentangle the two.

As I remember September 11, the first thing that comes to mind, of course, is the fear—the fear that flooded our country that day and the days that followed, the fear for our physical safety, for the future of our country, and for the Jewish people. Of course, we Jews are no strangers to fear, even from an early age. I remember a childhood conversation with my grandmother (who lived through World War II in Italy) about our Jewish heritage, and her response was a worried plea to “Never tell anyone.” Perhaps the most notable part of the conversation was that her words didn’t surprise me, and I didn’t wonder why she felt that way. Read the rest of this entry →

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