Yvette Sei/the Justice

MEMORIAL: Attendees at the University's annual Sept. 11 memorial spent a moment silently reflecting on the attacks.

On Monday afternoon, 16 years to the day after the deadliest terrorist attack in world history, members of the Brandeis community stood on the Great Lawn in remembrance of the 2,996 lives lost by 9/11. 

“A wise friend once reminded me that sometimes we remember with our heads, and sometimes we remember with our hearts. And sometimes we remember with both,” Director of Spiritual and Religious Life and Jewish Chaplain Rabbi Liza Stern told the crowd of approximately 40. “Today is both. Today we stop just for a moment.”

The date represents a “code word” for Americans, Stern said, adding that 9/11 is a Yahrtzeit — the Jewish anniversary of a loved one’s passing — that is shared by all. 

“If you’re old enough, you remember exactly where you were and exactly what you were doing. And if you were too young to remember, you grew up knowing that 9/11 has a deep, grief-filled resonance. After all, everyone knew someone who knew someone. Those were our people in those towers and on those planes,” she told the crowd, which included Dean of Students Jamele Adams and University President Ronald Liebowitz.

Remembrance was a central theme of the event, with Student Union President Jacob Edelman ’18 pointing out that “the students at Brandeis right now are just about on the cusp of either remembering the details very clearly or only remembering what came afterward.”

However, Edelman added, “Nobody who’s alive is going to be removed from that day and that year, because we all have reasons to remember.” 

It is also crucial to remember the marginalized narratives of those affected on 9/11, Coordinator for the Gender and Sexuality Center Alex Montgomery asserted. 

Montgomery said that the Muslims and Black firefighters who perished in 9/11 are often omitted from collective memory, as are the LGBTQ individuals who did not live to see the Defense of Marriage Act struck down. 

“These are the narratives of 9/11 that we don’t talk about, that aren’t uplifted often, at least not where I live,” Montgomery said. “And so as we think about everything that this coded term means to us and this nation, we need to reflect what the ‘us’ in it means, because it’s something different for everyone.”

Reflecting on the legacy of Sept. 11, individuals must also learn from the attacks and bring peace and kindness wherever possible, Edelman concluded. 

“We can just choose how we want to act as a result, and we can choose to help, we can choose to love each other, and we can choose to remember and, in the words of the ever-timely Robert Kennedy, choose to ‘make gentle the life of this world,’” he said.

Nia Duncan ’20 reiterated this sentiment, performing Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” for the crowd. 

“I think that it’s just very important to offer light into a place where there is a lot of darkness,” Duncan told attendees about the choice of song. 

—Kirby Kochanowski contributed reporting.