By Solomon Fox
Every year, The Leffell School commemorates the September 11th tragedies — whether that be through a speaker, tekes (ceremony), or moment of silence. This year, students heard from Adam Mayblum, a Leffell parent, regarding his connection to 9/11 and how he was personally affected by the attacks.
There are countless stories from individuals about that terrible day. But most of the students in the high school were not even born at the time of the attacks. In order to preserve some of those stories and ensure that people “Never Forget,” The Lion’s Roar asked members of the faculty: “Where were you on 9/11?”
Ms. Rina Schulberg, HS Grade Dean
“I was in Kindergarten on 9/11. My parents were actually in Europe — they were there for a conference, so they were in France. My brothers and I were in New York staying with my grandparents. I remember nothing of the details, no one really told me what was going on, but I remember that my parents couldn’t come home because flights weren’t allowed to come into America and that was really sad for me and really hard. Now that I can understand the impacts of the day and understand why they couldn’t come home, it makes sense, but when I was five, it was a really sad time for me.”
Mr. Avi Nahumi, HS Hebrew Teacher
“I was in my car driving to school when I heard on the radio that the first building was hit by an airplane. I opened the news and I wanted to listen and as I was driving, I heard someone scream in the news, ‘Another airplane just hit the second one.’ I came to school, the classes [were] in session, I ran quickly to Dr. Spiegel and I said, ‘Open the news, open the news, somebody hit the two towers!’
He opened the news and he saw it. Right away, we took all of the kids to the field and [we told] them [what had happened].”
Ms. Dorothy Weiss, Chair, HS Tanakh Department
“I was at home, getting ready for my first day ever of teaching and I heard — it was a news-radio station — and I heard all this stuff and I thought, ‘This must be an advertisement for a scary movie or something.’ And I’m getting ready, getting dressed, having my breakfast, having my coffee and it keeps going, it doesn’t stop. I’m thinking, ‘This is a long ad for a new movie — enough already…go away.’ It keeps happening, then I realized, ‘Oh my God, this is real and I turned on the TV and I called my husband, and then the shock to my system that this attack on our city.
It almost reminded me of how we say ‘We mourn for Zion.’ The attack on Jerusalem must have felt that way, it almost hurt my own bones that my city was being attacked in this shocking, horrible way. It was very real. In other words, it the first time I felt a catastrophe being in my present world and not somewhere at a distance or not sometime else in history. It felt like I really lived through a catastrophe and it changed my vision of the safety I always assumed I had [surrounding] me living in the United States and New York City.”
Ms. Irit Goldner-Kohn, HS Hebrew Teacher (Interview Translated from Hebrew)
“I came to America a month before September 11th. Two days before [the attacks] happened, we traveled to see the Twin Towers. I said to my husband, ‘It looks to me like those buildings are too tall and they challenge God.’ My first year at Leffell, I taught at the Lower School, fifth grade. At the Lower School near the copy machine, I saw everyone was standing around a computer and I got close and saw the pictures of the towers that fell in the fire. I said to the people there, ‘This can’t be, I came from Israel. It can’t be that it’s chasing me, all of this terrorism can’t be.’ I looked at the pictures and I didn’t believe.
I will never forget the two days before and I’ll never forget that I saw [the towers]. Until today, for me, [I won’t forget that the time I] immigrated from Israel to America was the time of September 11th. I wanted to forget everything that was happening in Israel, it was the time of the Second Intifada. I wanted to forget this and [it happened] a month later.”
Mr. Harry Shontz, HS History Teacher
“I was in third-period computers class at Hommocks Middle School and we were called into a ‘team’ (smaller student section) meeting. They announced to us that both towers had been hit, it was probably around 10:30 at that point. Immediately, two or three of my friends got up and ran out of the room and I didn’t really understand why. We later found out that it was because all of their parents worked there.
I knew my dad worked in the city, I did not know where my dad worked in the city. So I spent a whole day freaking out about what was going on. [The day after], it was eerie. I think a lot of us hadn’t understood the gravity of what had happened.”
Dr. Danny Aviv, Director of Engineering and Design
“I was in the library at UNC finishing my PhD dissertation. I needed a break so I walked down the hall in the library and I remember people were [gathered] around a TV and I saw it was a shot of the World Trade Center and there was a lot of smoke. I remember thinking to myself, ‘That’s so weird, where’s the other tower?’ As I [was] watching, I watch[ed] that tower collapse. I was in shock, I didn’t know what I was watching, so I went back to my lab. When I got to my lab, everyone was listening to the news and it was quiet and they all looked at me because I was the New Yorker in the lab.
My PhD advisor said, ‘Go make your phone calls.’ So I went back and I started to make phone calls but all the lines were busy. I got to my list, to my friend Ari Jacobs and when I got there, his wife picked up. She said, ‘He was in the restaurant [at the top of WTC1].’ Two days later, I was at a loss, just miserable and my PhD advisor brought me to his office and he says, ‘Go home, go home.’ One of the hardest parts for me besides losing one of my closest friends and being sad and standing three weeks later saying Kaddish for him when one year earlier in the same place we were saying Mazal Tov for him on his wedding, was that when I went back to UNC to finish my grad school, I was the reference point for everyone. It was strange for me that I was that point-person for those people.”