Wednesday, September 11, 2002

September 11th, 2002


Put aside all your busy thoughts.

Turn off the television.

Shut off the CD player.

Be still.


Be present in this moment.

Be here, with these words.

Be here entirely.

Breathe in.


Feel this moment.

This moment is a gift.

This day is a miracle.

You are here.

You are alive.

You have a capacity to love that is so vast you could never reach its limits.

There are no limits.

One year ago today, you watched thousands of innocent people die.

You watched two seemingly invincible icons crumble.

They were the big twin brothers at the bottom of the city, boyish and pompous and rich and powerful and young and playful. There were nothing like the simple elegance and constant beauty of their classically elegant older sister, the Empire State Building, but they were family. They were our boys. Just like we often do with family, we took them for granted until they were gone.

Now our baby brothers are dead.

One year ago, you watched something so horrible that no disaster movie will ever feel quite like a movie again.

You saw them jump.

You saw them disappear into a mountain of dust.

And when it was all quiet again, you saw the few, far too few, survivors crawl out, covered in layers of chalk, blinking, helpless and hopeless.

You felt helpless.

You felt hopeless.

Some of you, may have relived that day a thousand times and told yourself all the things you would do differently if you could go back in time.

Maybe you would have tried to help.

Maybe you would have been kinder to the people around you.

Maybe you would have remembered to tell the person lying next to you that you love them.

Well it’s September 11th again.

It is today.

It is now.

So what are you waiting for?

There are people who need to hear your voice. Tell them you care.

Walk everywhere today. Find total strangers and give them something, anything, a simple gesture of kindness. Buy lunch for a homeless person. Go to an animal shelter and save a life. Take your shoes off and walk through the grass.

Look in the mirror.

Do you like what you see?

Do you feel that you’ve done enough?

If you don’t feel that you’ve done enough, congratulations!. You’ve still got time. Get out there and spread yourself around like peanut butter. You’ve got so much to give.

If you do feel like you’ve done enough than I’ve got news for you. You’re full of shit! There is never enough. There can never be enough love or goodness.

One year ago today, we watched our family be murdered. Maybe they were of no relation to us. Maybe they were strangers. Maybe. But they were part of us.

Haven’t you wondered why it is that you mourn these strangers so deeply?

How can you feel their deaths so personally?

Why even now do you feel chills when you think of them?

Why is it when the families of the victims appear on television talking about their lost loved ones you feel like you understand? You feel the loss. You feel guilty for even trying to share a slice of their pain, but you do feel their pain.


Because they are your family too.

Because we are all in this together.

It is September 11th again.

Here, now, today, in this moment, we are in “911.”

Today is “911.”

Here is your chance.

Don’t make their deaths be in vain.

Try to fill this terrible cruel void in our hearts, in our skyline, in the cosmos, with something else.

Fill it with your goodness.

Fill it with your love.

Fill it with your honesty.

Fill it with your bravery.

Fill it with your vulnerability.

Fill it with you.

This will be the last rant at

All new rants will be at rossirant

I started this site one year ago and wanted to finish it on this day; September 11th, 2002.

This site has been something more than a voice for me. It’s often felt like salvation.

Thank you for listening to me.

Thank you for answering back.

I hope you’ll follow me to my new domain. I promise to keep ranting as long as you’ll keep reading.

A special thanks to Nancy at jillmatrix for creating my new web site for me as an awesome birthday gift and for helping me every step of the way with my old web site. She’s been like the Florence Nightingale of web-land for moi. Thanks, Flo!

Wednesday, September 04, 2002


The anniversary of a loved ones death.

We of my faith, commemorate this anniversary by lighting a simple white candle. You know the ones. You’ve seen them in the super-market aisle. They’re a glass jar filled with white wax. Sometimes they have Hebrew lettering on them.

In my hood they are most often used for low budget roof parties. They blend well with the Jesus candles you find in the corner bodega. I’ve always liked the white melting Star of David candle burning alongside the red Jesus candles. Nice touch for a tar beach soirée’.

Yahrtzeit candles seem to burn forever. I always light them as the sun sets and they’re still burning the next morning. They’re stoic little things. Only cost 69¢ too.

I’ve been lighting Yahrtzeit candles in September since 1993, the year after my mother died. September has become a smorgasbord of emotions for me. Not only does it house Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (the only times of year I go to the synagogue as a "High Holiday Jew" but when you throw in mom’s Yahrtzeit, it becomes a one way ticket to "mishegash" land!

This year, September mourning meets the anniversary of “911.”

The first Yahrtzeit of the day America lost its virginity.

No amount of white candles in glass jars will ever burn long enough or bright enough to blot out the pain of this terrible day. Just as no amount of tears can ever bring a loved one back.

But we try.

I’ll try.

I will go to “Shul” on the bookends that surround September 11th. Open myself up to my own blend of spirituality on Rosh Hashanah, find my own way to deal with it all on the morning of September 11th and try to snap myself shut, seam up my exposed inner self on Yom Kippur.

One can’t really function in New York City, with one’s inner self exposed. It’s a bit like walking around naked…during rush hour…in Times Square….a lot.

I’m still tossing about the “what the fuck do I do that day?” anniversary rap. Most of my pals are too. Some plan to leave town, some plan to watch TV and cry, some plan to go to a comedy and attempt to laugh.

I don’t plan on laughing that day.

I will say, however, that thinking of 911 as a Yahrtzeit has made everything click properly in my head. The word anniversary seemed to have a happy tone to it. Memorial is just well shit…we’ve had so many.

But Yahrtzeit feels right. It is the one year remembrance of a terrible loss. It is a day to light white candles and pray to whatever you believe in or whatever you don’t and it’s a valley nestled between two holidays that for me have always been symbolic of healing, mourning and reflecting.

This is not the Jewish column and I’m no preacher of this or any other religion. I don’t really know what happens to any of us after we die. I’ve never died. But I do feel, that when I light the Yahrtzeit candle this year and I shut out all the lights and watch this simple little glass jar burn endlessly through the night and I ask out loud that this terrible loss not be in vain, that someone will listen.

I believe that someone will listen.

It’s the answering back part I’m not so sure about.

La Shana Tovah


By the way…regardless of what religious calling you have…atheist, wicca, Catholic..
jewsweek (in case this link doesn't work just go to has an amazing September 11th special issue up now and they’ve also published my story of my time at ground zero one year ago during Rosh Hashanah. My piece is called “Days of Awe” you’ll have to scroll down a touch to find it.