They came together for Selichot at Ground Zero and at the large tent outside the medical examiner’s office where the remains of 9-11 victims are stored.
They came together to read their 9-11 memories at Symphony Space on the Upper West Side and to hear New York’s writers read their words at the 92nd Street Y.
They came together to pray at synagogues throughout the metropolitan area.
On Sept. 11, 2002, a year after the 9-11 that will reverberate in American history, members of the Jewish community joined fellow New Yorkers in remembering the tragedy that took some 3,000 lives and left a scar on the nation.
Besides the official commemorations last week on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks, at the site of the former World Trade Center in lower Manhattan and at parks in the five boroughs, there were scores of remembrance ceremonies sponsored by synagogues, Jewish community centers and other Jewish organizations.
There were tears. There were speeches.
And there were declarations that the day’s unity ó Americans marking the day as one, Jews of various denominations finding common cause under one roof: sent a signal that the perpetrators of hatred had not succeeded in dividing the United States.
"One year later we are more united than ever," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement read by Bernice Forman Friedman, a UJA-Federation board member, at a "Prayer, Reflection and Hope" memorial program at FEGS Health and Human Services headquarters in Tribeca.
The program, billed as the main Jewish community memorial event, attracted a few hundred Jewish community leaders and local politicians.
It was cosponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council and The New York Board of Rabbis.
Rabbi Alvin Kass, chief chaplain of the New York Fire Department, who attended the city’s 9-11 commemoration at Ground Zero earlier that day, described his year’s work counseling firemen and other uniformed workers who had lost colleagues.
Healing, Rabbi Kass said, "is just being together with people you love."
"People want togetherness," he said, praising the Jewish event’s ecumenical nature: representatives of the major branches of Judaism, and of several other religions, came to the Jewish event. "Sometimes the voices of unity and togetherness get smothered."
The FEGS program was followed by a candlelighting ceremony around the corner at the New York City Fire Museum.
Spokesmen for Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and other faiths lit individual candles from a yellow yahrzeit candle, shielding their flames from a stiff breeze that flapped the American flag overhead.
At Park East Synagogue on the Upper East Side, a sanctuary filled nearly to capacity gave a standing ovation to a score of men and women in uniform (New York police and firemen, members of the National Guard, volunteers from Israel’s Magen David Adom ambulance service and Zaka emergency retrieval unit) and listened to Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres’ words of praise for the U.S. battle against terrorism.
"I don’t have the slightest doubt that the United States will win this war … trying to save humankind from another dark age," Peres said. "We are fighting for the same values. The victory will be yours, ours. Let us pray together. Let us fight together. Let us win together."
The Park East event was cosponsored by UJA-Federation, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Ohel Children’s Home, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty and Hatzolah volunteer ambulance corps.
Heshey Jacob, a member of the Hatzolah executive board, announced that 100 members of the organization have agreed to train with their counterparts in Israel and serve there, "in case, God forbid, of a war," to replace Magen David Adom workers who are called into military service.
"This achdus, this togetherness that has developed between the Jews of the United States and of Israel," he said, "will bring Moshiach."