This 2018, it so happens that 9/11 is the second day of Rosh Hashanah.
While Rosh Hashanah is its best known name, this holiday of the Jewish New Year has 4 names:
(1) Rosh Hashanah – Head of the (new) year
(2) Yom Teruah – Day of sounding the Shofar
(3) Yom HaDin – Day of Judgement
(4) Yom HaZikaron – Day of Remembrance
(Note: #’s 2 and 4 are the biblical names, most commonly used in the liturgy)
In terms of 9/11, name #4 is most appropriate. Rosh Hashanah is a day of remembrance, as in 9/11. But it goes further and deeper than that.
Memory and Remembrance play a big role in the Rosh Hashanah liturgy, it is a whole third of the key portion of the Musaf Amidah. Now that we have computers we understand memory in new way. Instead of just being flashbacks to the past (as you might think of hard-storage on a computer or in the cloud) memory is also the computer’s RAM which is how the computer functions in the present. Memory is more than just stored images or experiences. Memory is also living-memory, active-memory, it is how we live and how we function.
The same can be said about 9/11. While today’s freshmen were born after 9/11/2001, they were born into this generation for whom this is not merely a story from a distant past, but an active, vivid, formative memory that still shapes and defines us.
Also, the point of Rosh Hashanah memories are more than just nostalgia or history. These memories are supposed to propel both us and G-d into appropriate action, fitting of those memories. Same is true of 9/11. Remembering it alone isn’t enough. The goal is for these memories to continue to shape us, to guide us, perhaps to recreate those feelings of unity and togetherness and connectedness that existed right after the attacks. As someone put it online, “remember 9/12!” the day we all came together, when people felt for one another, helped those in need, felt unified as one.