This year, for the 21st consecutive year, students assembled in a somber mood to learn about the history and implications of 9/11. Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman, Rosh Mesivta of the Rambam Mesivta, who spoke the day before at the commemorative program arranged by Mayor Benjamin Weinstock of the Village of Cedarhurst commemoration, tailored his remarks to the younger crowd, Rambam’s high school students.

Rabbi Friedman briefly summarized the horrific events of the day and made it clear to all those students who were not yet born, that it is imperative to view and plan for the future through the prism of the past. “We have to realize that 2,977 people were murdered that day; however, the mourning for all of those families continued years and years later: the little girl who didn’t have a father alive to read her a story and tuck her in, the five-year-old boy who didn’t have a father to play catch or teach him to ride a bike. The suffering is ongoing and has been going on for 7,765 days,” said Rabbi Friedman.

Rabbi Yotav Eliach, Principal of Rambam, then showed a six-minute video that recounted the history of that infamous day. He followed up by remarking, “It is more appropriate to characterize the events of that day as an attack rather than a tragedy. A tragedy is when something happens in a manner that seems unplanned, whereas this attack was premeditated and took years of planning.”

Both Rabbi Friedman and Rabbi Eliach spoke about the bravery of firefighters, police officers, and EMT personnel, lauding them for putting themselves at risk, running into a fiery building to save lives. “In many cases, these heroes leave home in the morning knowing there is a chance they will never come home to see their families,” said Rabbi Friedman.

A sharp contrast was drawn between the attitude of American society then and now. Back then, people were united and applauded Mayor Giuliani for rejecting a $10 million donation from the Saudi government to help rebuild New York. Giuliani made a point of saying that he would not accept money and payoffs, since all 19 hijackers were of Saudi descent. Today it would seem that with the prevalence of woke philosophy, many are hesitant to identify the group that perpetrated this heinous act and would view their actions as being at least somewhat justifiable. Rabbi Eliach pointedly proclaimed that people may have different opinions but there are not different truths. “There is such a thing as evil,” he explained.

There was a lot to think about as the assembly and students were given a perspective that focused on lessons to be derived from that terrible day.