I am still on the road, staying with different people along the way. As my hosts in L.A. greeted us, she turned to me and said, “It’s our 9-11 anniversary.” I had not put it together but realized that I first met them almost 20 years ago on September 10, 2001.
We had just moved to Denver, Colorado, and I had been booked months before the move to speak in L.A. and San Francisco. It was arranged for me to stay with a wonderful family in Beverly Hills. The talk I gave in the community was “Soul and the Afterlife– Where do we go from here?” The talk was well attended and well received.
The next morning I awoke to my phone ringing; it was my husband calling to tell me to turn on the television. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing– America was under attack. One of the planes had been headed to L.A. The world stopped, and so did my life.
Needless to say, I never made it to San Francisco, and I bonded with my host family day after day. I’ll never forget what she said as she showed me the morning paper that had come out before the attack happened: “Look what we used to care about.”
Together we lived through the shock and horror, became friends, and spoke about a new world that perhaps would wake up to the terror that Israel had battled for years. People in L.A. became kinder, letting each other into traffic. A week later, I barely got home in time for Rosh Hashana on one of the first planes out of L.A. The airport looked like a ghost town, and everything had been left untouched since that fateful day.
As we prepared to take off, the pilot reassured all of us that he would get us back safely, but I was not the only one crying. The woman beside me said her son had been called up from the reserves, and she was beyond frightened. I remember texting my husband, saying that I was afraid to fly for the first time in my life.
Did things change? I brought back an American flag from L.A., and we hung it proudly from our front porch. People were kinder…for a while. But instead of understanding what Israel had to continually live with, people on the radio were calling in and saying that this all happened because of America’s support for Israel.
Now, 20 years later, I am back in the same guest room, reliving that time and seeing a world with more terror, more antisemitism, and more unrest than ever before.
I feel grateful for the friendship that began with my hosts that continue to this very day. I do not know what will be in the next 20 years, but I hope and pray that if we increase our efforts for good, then, please G-d, good, in the end, will prevail.