The Zionist Conspiracy
Monday, August 02, 2004
Yesterday in a Judaica store, I came across one of these books with miracle stories about Jews who survived the September 11 attacks.
Never mind - for purposes of this post only - how provincial and self-centered these books are, by focusing exclusively on observant Jews. They are offensive even when viewed from within the prism of Orthodox Jewry.
On an individual level, of course, anyone who worked in the World Trade Center and survived must be extremely grateful for their good fortune. I know that a frum person at Cantor Fitzgerald, already late for work, was seconds away from being trapped - he was riding in an elevator on the way to Cantor just as the north building was hit by the first plane. Cantor was above the plane's impact and nobody there (including a young Orthodox woman who lived on the Upper West Side and a law school classmate of mine) survived. I also know a man who was on a very high floor of the south tower and headed downstairs as soon as the north tower was hit. He made it, but many of his co-workers, heeding the announcements to stay where they were, did not.
There also were members of Hatzalah, the Jewish volunteer ambulance service, who survived despite being in grave danger.
From their perspective and that of their families, the fact that they were spared must indeed be seen as miraculous.
On a wider level, however, I view all the miracle stories as indicative of a great deal of immaturity among some observant Jews. The idea being sent seems to be that God protected certain people because of their piety. We are supposed to believe that scores of people arrived late to work because of an old man who delayed morning services, or that a woman locked herself out of her house and called her husband home from work, where most of his colleagues perished.
Many people - including members of my family - survived the Holocaust against all odds. But nobody would view the Holocaust as primarily an opportunity for miracle stories about the survivors. Nor, when speaking about suicide bombings in Israel, do people have a need to claim that God miraculously saved those who were fortunate to survive unscathed. It is understood that while some were extremely fortunate to be saved and should thank God for their survival, a terrible disaster occurred.
Somehow the 9/11 disaster brought out a need for all these miracle stories. It didn't matter that a large number of observant Jews were murdered and suffered horribly, that many of their bodies were never found, or that for their surviving families, a book containing miracle stories likely was adding salt to their wounds.