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Nothing Will Ever Be The Same

May 9, 2009 | by Jennifer Hoffman

A New Yorker recounts the terror and her test of faith.

I just can't stop shaking. I stopped crying hours ago, but I think now it's shock that's setting in.

Eight hours ago, we were hit by a massive terrorist attack. Three strikes - they hit hard and they hit fast. It was brilliantly executed, carried out with the precision of a well-trained army. Exposed was the face of pure evil.

Massive numbers of people are dead, injured or in shock. We won't know the official count for days.

And the amazing part is, I do not reside in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. I do not live in Hadera or Netanya. I am sitting in my office on the corner of Broadway and 12th Street, in the middle of New York.

It was a quarter to nine this morning, the anniversary of the Camp David Accords. I just bummed a piece of a fat free apple-cinnamon muffin off a friend when someone yelled from down the hall that a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center. The World Trade Center??? What a horrible accident!!! No one, not in a million years, considered the possibility that it could have been a terrorist attack.

Who attacks New York? It just doesn't happen.

But it does. I stood on the balcony in my office, overlooking Broadway. I looked south, downtown, and saw the smoke, the ashes, the fire trucks, the ambulances, racing from all over, sirens blaring, rushing to the Wall Street area. It looked like it was snowing. I had my grandmother on the phone - it reminded her of the ovens in Auschwitz.

Two airplanes, eighteen minutes apart, slammed into the World Trade Center. A little while later, the buildings collapsed onto themselves. Another plane smashed into the Pentagon. A fourth plane, headed for Camp David, crashed on route. The New York Skyline will never be the same. Nothing will ever be the same. Our world as we know it has changed forever.

This was a deliberate, vicious attack on democracy and freedom, and it affects us all.

This is an act of war. We are at war. We're not in some third world country and we're not in the Middle East. We are in the United States of America, the Super Power of the world, and yet, we are not safe. This was not some guy from the Midwest who'd gone postal on his co-workers. This was a deliberate, vicious attack on democracy and freedom, and it affects us all.

This time it was personal.

How could one human do this to another? I ask the question, but I don't have an answer.

And so I sat, like so many others, watching the news all day long. I saw the second plane slowly circle the tower and deliberately fly straight into the center of the World Trade Center. I saw the building collapse. I cannot begin to imagine the terror of the people, having just arrived at work, drinking coffee, eating a bagel, saying good morning to each other. I cannot imagine the terror they experienced when they turned and saw a jet flying straight at their offices. These innocent Americans all had the misfortune of coming to work today - they could have called in sick, taken a vacation day, played hooky - had they only known.

But that's just the point. None of us knows. We get up every morning and go about our days, a happy-go-lucky people. How many of us run out of the house without praying, without even saying good morning to God, and hey, thanks for everything... We do not know what each day will bring. We just take a deep breath, step out of out houses and hope for the best. Most days, thank God, we leave home in the morning and return at night, in one piece. But the reality is, you never know.

There will be stories, hundreds and thousands of them, of people who were stuck in traffic, of people who ducked into Starbucks for a frappachino, of people who stopped to do their civic duty and vote in the New York Primaries this morning.

Just the other day, at 8:45 am, exactly at the same time the first plane crashed into the World Trade Center, I was there, directly in front of the World Trade Center, after having sat in massive traffic. I was very late to work - so I got off the bus downtown and took a train up to my office. Today, one day later, there is no World Trade Center. No train to take. The difference 24 hours can make is awesome.

Today, we were literally under siege. There was no way out of Manhattan - every single bridge, highway and tunnel was sealed. This must be what it is like to live in Israel - never knowing when or where the next attack will hit. And in a weird turn of events, I had four voice mails from friends and family in Israel who were quick enough to call before all phone lines into New York were shut down.

I couldn't call them back but I felt their terror. I knew it intimately. It's something I feel every morning, as I wake up, check the Jerusalem Post website and hold my breath as it loads, waiting to see what horrible thing took place today, in my beloved country, so far away.

One thought kept replaying itself in my mind - people constantly talk about how dangerous and scary it is to travel to Israel. They tell me I am crazy for planning a trip to Israel for Succot and leading a Solidarity Mission. Well, my friends, New York, it seems, is just as scary. And just as vulnerable. And if nothing else, today's events just served to strengthen my trust and belief in God.

There are no words. Only tears. And prayers.

Ultimately, it's all in the hands of God. All of it. And there's not a darn thing we can do about it.

There are no words. Only tears. And prayers. And faith. It's all nice and well to have trust in God when life is going smoothly. But to keep that trust when lightning strikes and a your city blows up, well, that shows the true you and God knows it.

We don't get to see the big picture. But God does. And He knows what He is doing. We have to trust and we have to believe and we have to talk to Him.

We all have crazy lives. Sometimes, life happens and in the middle of rushing around, we get too busy to talk to God. Don't ever forget to talk to God. He's always there and always listening.

And always protecting us. Yes, military jets were guarding New York airspace and warships came to protect the waters off of New York. But ultimately, God is the one who protects us all. Faith in the army, navy, marines and the government is essential. But don't forget who protects them - the ultimate Commander in Chief.

Every single American lost something today. We must heal, but we cannot do it alone. Faith in essential. We all have it, sometimes we just have to dig a little deeper to find it.

The family mourns for those lost and prays for the recovery of the injured. We are in a state of utter shock and disbelief. May the Almighty remove our sorrow and shield us from further pain.

Readers may share their thoughts and prayers in the comment section below.


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