Students in Austin Honor Local First Responders on Anniversary of 9/11  | Shalom Austin

Students in Austin Honor Local First Responders on Anniversary of 9/11 

Community News, Local Synagogues, The Jewish Outlook

Sep 14, 2022

AJA students in Austin honoring local first responders at 9/11 ceremony. Courtesy Jewish National Fund – USA.

By Jennifer Milton

In recognition of the 21st anniversary of 9/11, Jewish National Fund-USA partnered with Austin Jewish Academy, Congregation Agudas Achim and firefighters from Austin Fire Station 21 to host a 9/11 ceremony educating students about the terrorist attacks that forever changed the nation and honoring first responders who bravely serve the community. Nearly 50 attendees participated in JNF-USA’s inaugural 9/11 memorial event in the region.  

“I thought this event was incredible and I look forward to hosting this event every year so we can show our appreciation to our amazing first responders,” said AJA’s Acting Head of School, Heather Kantrowitz.  

Coordinated by Galit Birk, Jewish National Fund-USA’s Israel Programs Admissions Director in Texas, along with Kantrowitz and AJA Assistant Principal Brooke Dunshee, the program featured AJA students singing a prayer of gratitude as well as remarks from first responders and JNF-USA Rabbi for Israel and Senior Rabbi at Congregation Agudas Achim, Rabbi Neil Blumofe. Birk and two students presented a plaque to the firefighters who attended the ceremony: Lt. Jason Bryant, Specialist Jake Bailey, Firefighter Adam Wheeler, and Probationary Firefighter Hanzell Hernandez Rivero of Station 21’s B Shift. 

Jewish National Fund-USA’s Galit Birk with Austin first responders at a 9/11 ceremony on September 8, 2022

Jewish National Fund-USA’s Galit Birk with Austin first responders at a 9/11 ceremony on September 8, 2022. Courtesy Jewish National Fund-USA.

The plaque featured Jewish National Fund-USA’s and KKL-JNF’s 9/11 Living Memorial in Jerusalem — the only commemorative site of its type outside of the U.S. that lists all the names of those who were killed on 9/11. It represents the firefighters, paramedics, and police officers who made the ultimate sacrifice and worked tirelessly to save countless lives on that infamous day, and honors first responders who risk it all to protect and serve. Established in 2009, the monument is a testament to the deep connection between the State of Israel and the U.S., and our countries’ shared values of peace, religious tolerance, democracy, and fighting terrorism.  

“It’s hard to believe it has been 21 years since the unfathomable and most horrific terrorist attack was waged on our country,” Birk said at the event. “For those of us who were alive at the time — we all have our stories. Where we were, how we heard, and so forth. Many of us lost loved ones. Thousands of first responders from across the U.S. immediately traveled to New York City and the other impacted sites to assist in the search and rescue efforts in the aftermath of this tragic day. This ceremony is for you. Today, we honor you and let you know that we see you and that Israel sees you.” 

Austin Jewish Academy’s Brooke Dunshee and Aviva Melissa Frank with firefighters from Austin Fire Station 21

Austin Jewish Academy’s Brooke Dunshee and Aviva Melissa Frank with firefighters from Austin Fire Station 21. Courtesy Jewish National Fund-USA.

AJA’s Heather Kantrowitz and Brooke Dunshee, JNF-USA’s Galit Birk, Congregation Agudas Achim’s Rabbi Neil Blumofe, and a student from AJA pose with firefighters from Austin Fire Station 21 at a 9/11 ceremony honoring local first responders

AJA’s Heather Kantrowitz and Brooke Dunshee, JNF-USA’s Galit Birk, Congregation Agudas Achim’s Rabbi Neil Blumofe, and a student from AJA pose with firefighters from Austin Fire Station 21 at a 9/11 ceremony honoring local first responders. Courtesy Jewish National Fund-USA.

Jewish National Fund-USA also hosted its annual ceremony paying tribute to the victims of 9/11 at the memorial in Jerusalem on Sunday, September 11, 2022. Broadcasted globally on JNF-USA’s Facebook page, it was attended by U.S Marines, the U.S. Embassy, Jerusalem chargé d’affaires, Israeli firefighters, police officers, and diplomats from around the world. The service also honored the memory of the heroes who fell and recognized the heroes who walk among us.  

For more information about Jewish National Fund-USA’s Israel and educational programs, contact Galit Birk at 214-433-6600 x944 or gbirk@jnf.org. For general questions about Jewish National Fund-USA, contact Chayla Furlong, Director, Central Texas at 512-410-1438 x948 or CFurlong@jnf.org.

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