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On 911, Their Memory Is A Blessing


As I write this story, I watch the memorial service in New York that is videotaped live on my computer and listen to family members read the names of their loved ones who died on September 11, 2001. A flute quietly plays Amazing Grace, while the crackling voices pronunciate the names of each and every name of the nearly 3,000 people who perished 12 years ago in the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, in a grassy field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and in the ash-covered streets in Lower Manhattan on that infamous day from hell.

The speakers are children and adults,who stand before the crowd on a hot summer morning, with the rush of the two waterfalls in the background. They share personal stories about their mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, daughters, sons, brothers, sisters, friends who went to work on that September 11 morning and never came home.

Some of the readers were babies or not even born yet when their parent died, and now they are in middle school,   speaking eloquently in front of our nation, growing up in a frightening world of uncertainty that took away their mom or dad.  Some of the speakers hold framed photos of their relatives, who are smiling and innocent. Their hearts are broken. Their lives are changed forever. All of us are changed, since the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, but nothing compared to the people who gather every year on this day at Memorial Plaza in New York City.

Every year I wonder what to write about on the anniversary of 911, which, by the way, coincides with the Jewish high holidays. Last year, I shared ways that we all can pay tribute by doing mitzvahs.

This year, I’m borrowing the idea of a fellow LTYM blogger Melisa Wells, of Suburban Scrawl, who started a tradition to profile some of the victims and keep their memories alive. In the Jewish religion, we say, “May their memory be for a blessing.” And, so here is my tribute, my small part, to honor the men, women, and children whose names are etched into bronze panels that edge the reflective pools where the twin towers once stood.

To see all the names and learn more about how our country is honoring the 911 heroes, visit the 911 Memorial Guide.


Steven was a broker at Cantor Fitzgerald and died two days shy of his 41st birthday.

As published in the New York Times in 2001, Steven’s math score on his SAT was 790 out of 800, according to his brothers, Michael and Andrew. “He always wondered where the other 10 points went,” Andrew said. “He knew he’d gotten them all right.” After 13 years as a trader on the New York Mercantile Exchange, Mr. Furman joined Cantor last April.

An observant Orthodox Jew, Steven and his wife, Chavi, lived in Wesley Hills, N.Y., with their four young children: Nisan, Sarah Rachel, Naomi and Menashe. “He didn’t have a fancy house or a fancy car,” said his sister Jayne Furman. “The more money he made, the more money he gave away.”

He never fit into the big-money world of Wall Street, said his father, Marvin Furman. “His family, his religion, the people in his community — that was his life.”



Shimmy was known by his family, who owned a Jewish bookstore in New York, as being an extraordinary man in an ordinary way. He died at age 42 and was a vice president at the money-management firm Fiduciary Trust International Inc. Whether he was helping to plan his niece’s wedding festivities, or giving his wife and children last minute instructions as he was suffocating in his smoke-filled office in the World Trade Center, Shimmy was a devoted family man and friend to many. In addition to being deeply spiritual and active in his community, his intelligence and generosity earned him respect among his co-workers. The dramatic last moments of his life on the morning of September 11, 2001, are documented here in a Wall Street Journal article.

Before his tragic death, Shimmy was planning to visit Israel in a few days with his 19-year-old son Mordechai to celebrate the Jewish New Year. 



Zoe Falkenberg was on American Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon. She was only eight years old. She died with her whole family, her father, Charles Falkenberg, her mother, Leslie Whittington, and her three-year-old sister Dana, who were all so full of life. They lived in University Park, Maryland and were on their way to Australia, where Leslie planned to work for a few months at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Zoe was a top student at University Park Elementary School. She was active in Girl Scouts, ballet and swim team. She appeared in the school’s production of “Brigadoon” and a local production of “The King and I.” She was greatly loved by her friends, teammates, teachers and her friends’ parents.




Steven, Shimmy, Zoe. These are three people who I personally didn’t know, but I’m grateful that I do now, even if it only scratches the surface. They are not a statistic. They are greatly missed by their family and friends. Every anniversary of 911, I will get to know three more people and introduce them to you. I invite you to do the same.

And let’s not forget the 911 rescue dogs who worked tirelessly for days on Ground Zero. They are my heroes, too.