A View of the World Through the Thoughts and Lens of Scott Kasper

Posts tagged “Rosh Hashanah

Do you Remember? More importantly, will you ever forget?

I remember, and will never forget!!!

At UMass Memorial Medical Center every Tuesday morning we had our management team meeting for Worcester EMS. It would start promptly at 8:00 am and usually lasted the entire morning. On This particular Tuesday we had started our meeting. Sitting in the Emergency Medicine conference room when Alicia Galvin, Dr. Aghababian’s secretary come barging through the door to tell is that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center.

She had to have been kidding!

We turned on the television just in time to see the second plane hit the building. She wasn’t kidding and our world has just changed forever.

This past weekend, Jews around the world celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The Torah reading during Rosh Hashanah tells the story of God instructing Abraham to bring his son Isaac to Mount Moriah, to bind him up, and to sacrifice him as a showing of Abraham’s devotion. Abraham follows these commands and only at the last minute is Isaac spared from human sacrifice when Abraham is disrupted by a ram caught in some bushes. According to Jewish text, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is identified as Mount Moriah and the the Holy Temple was built on the location of the rock on which Abraham’s devotion to God was nearly carried out.

This week, Muslims around the world are celebrating the end of Ramadan. The same story I described above is told in the Qur’an…with only one minor difference. The Qur’an teaches that it was Ishmael, Abraham’s other son, who was to be sacrificed. However, it was the same location and is currently the site of the Dome of the Rock, where years after Ishmael took his tribe and founded Islam, the Profit Muhammad stepped off the rock to heaven in order to receive the Qur’an from Allah.

It’s gotta make you think!! Two interpretations of the same story seems so simple. However those whose lineage followed the path of Isaac and those whose lineage followed the path of his brother Ishmael cannot be further apart and the issues that separate us cannot be more complex. It saddens me.

Today is the ninth anniversary of the day on which al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four airplanes and flew them directly into the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania (intended for the White House were it not for the extremely heroic efforts of the passengers on board). Nearly 3000 Americans died that day, and today we should remember.

We should remember more than the simple but tragic facts that I just described. We should remember why they died, and more importantly we should remember how we came together in unity in the days and weeks and months that followed. I think we have forgotten that.

Instead, the divide widens. There is continued debate over the building of a Mosque at the site of Ground Zero and a Terry Jones, a Florida Pastor, planned a Qur’an burning. I must say that I am in favor of neither or these, though I recognize that we should entertain healthy debate about the former. As distasteful as it may be to many Americans, it does – at some level – represent the freedom of religion and freedom of speech that makes this country so great.

As for the latter – well, this man is just plainly an idiot…and according to the photo I took in Nazareth, those he opposed already believe that he is a loser! Does he really believe that his symbolic gesture of protest will prevent the building of the Mosque? Does he not realize that his actions have put all of our lives in greater danger? Has he forgotten how we came together in unity, and is he really taking action that is righteous in the eyes of God?

On this ninth anniversary of 9-11 I will chose to remember, and I will chose to remember tolerance over hatred so that those who died on that day will not have done so for naught.

Today will be a day of celebration – I am off to photograph the ceremony of renewed wedding vows of a couple who celebrates 50 years of marriage. Together with their children and grandchildren, they will clearly remember that today can be a day of joy and harmony. What a contrast!