Rabbi Seth Oppenheimer wrote two prayers for 9/11 services. The first was delivered after the original events of 9/11, read at a mosque in Starkville, Mississippi (after rotten fruit had been thrown at the mosque). The second was delivered at a 10th anniversary service at Mississippi State University.
Oh my brother Ishmael.
far from the disputed wells of our father,
here we can remember we are brothers.
We can remember,
your daughter is my niece,
your son, my nephew,
your wife, my sister.
Here, so far away from walled cities,
we can remember that we buried a father together.
We can remember that our blood is the same.
we can weep.
The following prayer was offered as the invocation for 9-11 ten year student political organization memorial, at Mississippi State University on 9/11/2011:
They were Christian and Jew,
Moslem and Hindu,
Buddhist and Sikh,
Of every religious tradition and those who had turned their back on religion.
They were living their lives,
Fulfilling the homely virtues of hard work and constancy.
Pilots and washerwomen
Executives and housewives
Soldiers and waiters.
Death came for them out of the sky, fueled by hatred and rage.
What did they do,
Those trapped above the flames,
suffocating in the rising smoke?
They called those close to them,
I love you, they said.
I love you
I love you
Thousands of voices,
some heard live,
I love you.
Death came, fueled by hatred and rage.
Those who could escape,
Stopped and helped a neighbor less able.
Gathered together to make a slower descent
Out of nightmare
To help carry those who could not climb the stairs alone.
Hatred struck, seeking to terrify and divide our nation.
Surrounded by approaching death
Gathered together to protect life.
Death came from the sky,
Brought by those who sacrificed their lives to bring death.
On the streets, the firemen and policemen of the city,
Out of the hallways of the pentagon not shattered by the plane’s impact,
Those able to act,
Moved into the inferno,
Risking their lives,
Sacrificing their lives
To bring life,
To save life
Acting out of duty
Acting out of that generalized love of neighbor that is the best expression of patriotism.
So many died in the service of life,
In the air,
Some learned what was happening.
They could not save themselves,
But their last act could be the salvation of others.
They used their last minutes of life
They acted so that others would be saved.
Self sacrifice for the sake of life and love
At great cost
Suicide for death and hatred.
And so it is how we must distinguish ourselves
Let us be the ones who act for love
Let us be the ones who seek to save life.
We are blessed that,
On that day of crisis,
The best of our countrymen was brought forth.
May we be so blessed
That we might honor their memory
By fulfilling the best that is in us
By living the love, duty, and self sacrifice
That they showed that day.
And, may we never forget.