It has been 15 years since 2,996 people lost their lives — and more than 6,000 others were injured — on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, the deadliest foreign attack on U.S. soil.
But the hijacking of four U.S. commercial airplanes by 19 men, and crashing them into each of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, was only the beginning.
Since that September day, there have been dozens more terrorist attacks around the world. Among the more notable: the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013; the attack on the Parisian offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015; the attacks at the Bataclan concert hall and other spots around Paris in November 2015; the suicide bombings at the Brussels Airport and a Metro station in March 2016; and more recently, the shootings and suicide bombings at the Istanbul airport in June.
“It’s astounding how many terror attacks we have had over the last 15 years,” said Rabbi Judith Siegal of Temple Judea in Coral Gables, which is hosting an interfaith service on Sunday, Sept. 11, to honor not only those who died 15 years ago, but others who have lost their lives owing to violence.
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The free service, organized by MCCJ, a nonprofit that fights for equality and diversity, is built around the theme, “Out of Many, One: A Celebration of Interfaith Community.” The service will include leaders and congregants from the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths and will start with a march in silence toward the temple to the sound of a Shofar, an ancient musical horn made from a ram’s horn used in Judaism.
“The key here is we didn’t want to only focus on 9/11,” said Roberta Shevin, executive director of MCCJ. “We will remember those who lost their lives on 9/11 but also those people we have lost in the 15 years since to hatred and violence.”
The ceremony, which will be broken into three parts — mourning, reconciliation and a call to action — will include hundreds of people from different backgrounds, cultures and religions.
“We have to pull together, we have to look past the arbitrary boundaries that separate us and connect on a human level,” said the Rev. Wilifred Allen-Faiella, rector at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Coconut Grove, who helped put the program together. “We need to make a commitment to make things better.”
The interfaith service on Sept. 11 arose from the MCCJ, which was founded in Miami in 1935 as the Miami Coalition of Christians & Jews. The group, which meets regularly to discuss interfaith issues, now goes by MCCJ.
In 2010, the group marked the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with a ceremony and organizers felt it was appropriate to hold one for the 15th anniversary.
Shevin said while they hold interfaith services yearly, they are not always tied to 9/11.
“I personally look forward to it every year,” she said. “It’s just so mind-expanding to know we are all trying to find meaningful lives, but we just take different paths.”
Several choirs will perform, including Kol Malachim from Temple Judea, Miami Gay Men’s Chorus, Legato Vocal Ensemble (African American), and choirs from St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, St. John’s on the Lake United Methodist Church, Christ the King and Coral Gables Congregational Church of Christ.
Someone will read a translated verse of the Quran about peace.
Shabbir Motorwala, head of the Coalition of South Florida Muslim Organizations, said COSMOS has been a part of the interfaith ceremonies from the start.
“It’s good for us to hold hands and say, ‘I am here for you and you are here for me,’ ” he said.
It’s especially important, he said, because anti-Muslim fears seem to spike around Sept. 11. That mistrust and bigotry is why this event was born, Shevin said.
“The whole dialogue is based on understanding each others’ beliefs and emphasizing what we have in common to reduce hate and suspicion,” she said.
The current political climate in the nation, with its divisiveness and discord, makes the service more important than ever, Siegal said.
“Hope is what I would like to see everybody to get out of this service,” she said. “In a world that I think is deemed very hopeless sometimes, our desire is that this service gives inspiration and hope for a peaceful future.”
Out of Many, One: A Celebration of Interfaith Community: Marking the 15th anniversary of 9/11, the MCCJ Clergy Dialogue, South Florida leaders and several congregations will conduct a procession and share inspirational words and music in honor of those who have passed due to violence, hatred and terror since 9/11; 4:30 p.m. Sept. 11; Temple Judea, 5500 Granada Blvd., Coral Gables. The interfaith service is a partnership among the Archdiocese of Miami, COSMOS (Coalition of South Florida Muslim Communities), PACT, Faith in the City, the Rabbinical Association of Miami, and The Atlantic Institute and South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice. For information, call 305-755-6096 or visit www.miamiccj.org.
Blue Mass: Marks the 15th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Public safety officials will be honored for their service to the community. The Knights of Columbus Color Corp have been invited to attend, along with representatives of the city of Miami police and fire departments, and county and city officials. The Mass will take place at the following locations:
▪ 10:30 a.m. Sept. 11; St. Hugh Catholic Church, 3460 Royal Road, Coconut Grove. 305-444-8363
▪ 12:30 p.m. Sept. 11; Mother of Christ Catholic Church, 14141 SW 26th St., Miami. 305-559-6111.
Candlelight Service: Unity on the Bay will hold a guided meditation and candlelight prayer service at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sept. 11. The services will honor those who lost their lives and will call on congregants to pray for all 195 countries by name. Unity on the Bay is located at 411 NE 21st St., Miami.
Tunnel to Towers 9/11 Remembrance at Marlins Ballpark: The Miami Marlins will host a fundraiser event, Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which raises funds to help catastrophically injured veterans and first responders. $15 of every ticket sold for the Marlins vs. Dodgers 1 p.m game on Sept. 11 will be donated to the foundation. For information, call 786-449-2598, 305-984-2497, firstname.lastname@example.org, or www.marlins.com/tunnel.
Dedication Ceremony for Sept. 11 Memorial: The Broward County Aviation Department will hold a ceremony in Terminal 1 at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport. Speakers include Broward County Mayor Marty Kiar; County Commissioner Chip LaMarca; Mark E. Gale, CEO/director of aviation; Barbara Schukraft, FLL and Key West Federal Security Director Transportation Security Administration; and Stephen Kinsey, undersheriff, Broward Sheriff’s Office. Special guests include Police Pipe and Drum Corps of Florida (Bagpipe Troupe), Broward Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard, and Transportation Security Administration Honor Guard; 9:30 a.m. Sept. 11, Terminal 1, Lower Level (Baggage Claim), Terminal Drive, Fort Lauderdale. 954-359-6100.
9/11 Prayer & Remembrance Service: Remembering the losses and sacrifices that took place on Sept. 11, 2001; 10 a.m., St. Johns Lutheran Church, 2919 Van Buren St., Hollywood. 954-922-7565.
9/11 Remembrance Ceremony: The city of Coral Gables will hold a memorial ceremony to remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The ceremony will take place at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, in the courtyard of Coral Gables City Hall, 406 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables. The ceremony will include an Honor Guard, remarks by Mayor Jim Cason, a Sept. 11 proclamation and closing reflections by Chaplain Neil Skjoldal.