On September 11th 2001, four passenger jets were hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center, New York City, the Pentagon,Washington DC, and an open field in Pennsylvania. The world watched in horror as the World Trade Center collapsed on those inside and on the rescuers who charged in bravely, against all odds to save lives. By the time the smoke dispersed and the dust settled, the death toll reached almost 3,000.
In 2009, on the slopes of Ceder Valley Park on the outskirts of Jerusalem, KKL-JNF inaugurated a striking monument in memory of the victims of that day which changed the world's perception of the war on terror. The names of the victims of all nationalities, from countries all around the world, are engraved around the sides of the memorial plaza, including five Israeli citizens: Alona Avraham, Daniel Mark Lewin, Hagay Shefi, Leon Libor and Shai Levinhar, of blessed memory.
The monument was commissioned by JNF USA and KKL and was designed by sculptor Eliezer Weishoff who gave the tragedy tangible form by casting a US flag folded into the shape of a memorial flame in bronze. The base of the monument recognizes those who lost their lives in the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania and is inlaid with a shard of steel from the wreckage of the Twin Towers. The monument's location at the approach to Jerusalem expresses the deep connection between the people of Israel and the United States and their common battle against terrorism on the one hand, alongside their yearning for peace and tolerance on the other.
This Living Memorial Plaza was made possible by contributions from the estate of Mrs. Bronka Staysky Rabin Weintraub and the Edward Blank family. The project was planned and implemented by Keren Kayemeth Lelsrael - Jewish National Fund.
The monument was officially inaugurated at a moving ceremony in November 2009, in the presence of KKL-JNF representatives from Israel and the U.S., the donors' families, the families of the Israeli victims, representatives of the Embassy in Israel and the congress of the United States of America, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and many other dignitaries. A delegation from the Israel Fire and Rescue Services paid respect to their New York City counterparts who perished in an act of supreme heroism.
The memorial site is part of the Cedar Valley Park, which KKL-JNF is working to preserve and develop as a central park and forest around Jerusalem. Visitors from Israel and abroad are awed by the power and pain that emanates from this deeply moving monument; with its thousands of engraved names, against the wooded background of the Jerusalem Hills and are inspired and hopeful for the future by the sounds of children playing in the park. The dust has settled and we have survived, we live, we remember.
KKL-JNF World Chairman