A Letter from Israel

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10/22/2001

156 liberty st ny ny 10006

Neighborhood: All Over, Letter From Abroad

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I am not an American citizen and my only knowledge of New York City had been through TV series and movies. But three years ago I decided to save a few bucks and visit. From the moment I took the cab from JFK airport, I felt like I was coming back home. It was strange: the landscape seemed familiar.

Friends in Israel told me New Yorkers were arrogant and that I needed to be careful. But New Yorkers are not arrogant. They are proud of their city - and should be. My first meeting with the town was an early morning coffee and bagel somewhere near Broadway. "Tourist, eh?" said the owner, as he poured a cup of black, strong, aromatic American coffee.

As it was very early, he sat with me, and we chatted. "Israel, eh? Dangerous place to live, Dude. Good fruit and hummus, though. You’re here for two weeks only? Man, it's not enough time to see the Village." He spoke about his city like a boy about his mom.

On my second day I went to see the WTC. It was cloudy, and clouds kept me from seeing its top. I thought, as I saw the buildings, that this is the essence and beacon of the free world: a city, whose people came from all over the blue planet in search of a better life. A building that housed floors and floors of free enterprise, going so high, higher than the clouds. And I felt at home, something I can't always say about Israel.

I followed the tragedy of September 11th., feeling as it happened right across the street. I have too many friends there. I want to be with you people, help as I can, but I learned that blood donations are no longer needed, volunteers are more than enough and things are being taken care of.

Even so, since last Tuesday, I can neither sleep nor go back to normal life, as much as life can be normal in Israel. If I could and was asked to do so, I would be there with you folks, moving rubble apart with my bare hands, helping in any way it was needed. What happened in New York is not an attack on the city and its people. It's an attack, a senseless one, on the free, on the brave and the bright.»

I am not a religious person. Rarely I have visited a synagogue or a church. This Friday, I called two of my closest friends. As the city where I live is a mixture of immigrants from all over the world - crazy enough to live here, we are of all beliefs and customs. I said a prayer at my local synagogue. My friends did the same: one of them is Christian, and the other is a Beduin Muslim, so they went to the mosque and church, only to find more people who decided to do the same for the victims of attack and their families.

On 9/11, a beacon was turned off - momentarily - by those who do not deserve to even be called human. Be sure that soon each one of us, who believe in what New York - and America – stands for will do whatever we can, whenever we will be asked, so that beacon will light higher and brighter, never to be turned off again, its light a live memory to those gone.

I want to do more for you people, but don't know what. For now, I send you my prayers, my kindest feelings and my best wishes. You are great people. You live in a place that makes the good of people to come out, even if outsiders don't always understand it.

I want to wish you "Be Brave", but you proved that a long time ago. You are brave. And you have all of us, who believe in what you stand for, right with you. Try and go on with your life, as hard as it is when such sadness is your share.

And OK, I am not a writer, but this is what I feel, and what I wanted you to know.

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