Whenever I think of that terrible day, two things immediately come to mind.

First, I remember how it took the better part of the day until I fully grasped the depth of the horror that had occurred.

And the second thing I remember is: the weather. 

This may seem odd.

But if you were in NYC on that day, then you know exactly what I am talking about.

On Monday, September 10, it had rained. An awful, gray, chilly,  wet, dreary day.

But on Tuesday, the city seemed transformed. The sky – a stunning blue. A gentle, lovely day.

I remember that as I left the house that morning, I felt embraced by the warmth of the sun. I remember smiling. This was going to be a very good day.

At the time, I was working several miles from our home in Queens, in a psychiatric unit of a local hospital. And in the evenings, my private practice, in Manhattan. My husband worked in the computer department of a company in the World Financial Center.

Right across the street from the World Trade Center.

On some days, he took the subway to work. On other days, especially in good weather, he took the Express bus to lower Manhattan.

Every day, he walked across the World Trade Center plaza to get to work.

That morning, he decided to take the bus.

I drove him to the stop, and we saw the bus arrive. He opened the car door, delighted that he would be on time for an early meeting.

But the bus suddenly drove off.

We both gasped.

I offered to drive him to a subway stop. But he did not want me to be late for work. And anyway, another bus was due in twenty minutes.

That morning in the psych unit, I remember standing at the nurses’ station, when the pharmacy clerk walked in.  

“Did you hear?” he said. “A plane hit the World Trade Center.”

“Is that a joke?” I asked. I thought maybe it was the opening line of a weird joke; “Hey! Did you hear the one about the plane hitting the WTC?”

“It’s not a joke! Go to the Day Room and turn on the TV”

I watched the TV screen for several minutes, looking at the black smoke and damaged floors of the WTC. “Terrible,” I thought. Probably a small plane.

I went back to my office, to catch up on paperwork.

The phone rang. It was my husband.

“Something is going on here. I can’t talk for long. Cell phones aren’t working, a storekeeper is letting people use his land line.”

I asked him about his meeting. He said he saw people run out of the World Financial Center, and he thought it was best to take the train home. He promised to call me when he got home.

Our daughters and son called, and I assured them that everything was ok.

A staff member walked into my office. “You’d better go to the Day Room. You gotta see this.”

I followed him, but when I saw the TV screen, I thought, “haven’t  I already seen this, the burning floors of the WTC?” I watched the video of the plane fly into the building, wondering how they had gotten that video. I was shocked to hear that a second plane had hit the other tower.

Stunned, I went back to my office.

 Later, another staff member walked in. He had a strange look on his face. He told me that the World Trade Center had just fallen.

I remember thinking, “What does that mean? How can a building ‘fall’ ?

Our son called again. He sounded worried. He had just heard that the subway system had been totally shut down.

Now I was alarmed. It had been over an hour since my husband had called. And his subway stop was the World Trade Center, right under the buildings. If one of the towers “fell,” did that mean he was trapped underneath?

I sat at my desk for three hours, staring at the phone.

And praying. Psalm 23 seemed to take on a new meaning that day.

Sometime after 1 p.m., my husband called. He had just gotten home.

On the bus that morning, a few blocks from the World Trade Center, a woman sitting in the front of the bus had screamed: “OMG! The WTC is on fire!”

My husband, thinking that traffic would halt when fire trucks arrived, asked the bus driver to let him off.

It was very quiet, he recalled, and he was two blocks away from the WTC, when suddenly,  he heard a noise unlike any other.

He heard the second plane hit.

And then, a noise that sounded like falling metal.

(Every night, for about a month afterwards, he “heard” the noise as he tried to fall asleep. I once asked him what the explosion had sounded like. “Judgment Day,” he answered.)

He had followed the crowd for ten blocks, and entered the subway there. While waiting for the train, someone ran into the station, shouting, “I saw people jumping out of the World Trade Center!” Then, the train platform shook violently. Another  man ran into the station, shouting that the World Trade Center had just fallen.

When the train arrived at the first stop in Queens, police were everywhere, ordering everyone off the train and out of the station.

Miles from home, and in an industrial neighborhood, he had no choice but to walk home.

After a while, he saw an off-duty cab. He offered the driver $20 to take him home. The driver said he was “stuck” in Queens, as all the bridges and tunnels to Manhattan had been closed.

We later learned that a woman, walking across the WTC plaza when the first plane hit, had been badly burned by falling jet fuel. That was the time my husband would have crossed the plaza, had he caught the first bus.

There were so many stories that emerged in the aftermath of the grief and horror of that day. I want to share a few of them with you:


A woman in my neighborhood, a Holocaust survivor, lost her son that day. She could not be consoled. She cried, “My parents were murdered in Dachau, and they have no graves.” Was this, she asked,  also to be the fate of her son?


A week after the attack, I got into the elevator at work, and, as the door closed, a nurse began sobbing.

She had been sitting at the nurses’ station, when the phone rang. A  woman stated that her sister had worked at the World Trade Center and was now missing. Perhaps her sister was a patient in her unit? Could she please check the patient list?

“Ma’am,” the nurse responded, “this is a pediatric unit.”

“You don’t understand,” said the woman. “I’ve been calling hospitals all week. Your number is the last one on my list.”

They both cried.


One of the doormen of my office building in Manhattan, Carlos, lost his father. He had worked in the Windows on the World Restaurant, on the 107th floor of the World Trade Center.

About two months later, the other doorman told me that Carlos’s father had been “found,” and Carlos had accompanied his father’s body for burial in Guatemala.

How was it possible, I asked, for his father’s body to remain intact?

The doorman looked away as he answered.

“Well… they didn’t find the whole body. Just his head… and an arm.”


And finally, this:

A poor, elderly woman took the bus one day, to pay some bills. She was carrying cash in her handbag, and several other packages.

When she got off the bus, she realized, to her dismay, that she had left her handbag on the bus.

She went home, distraught. What was she going to do now?

Then she received a phone call. A man had found her handbag on the bus. After work, he and his wife would return her bag.

In the evening, she opened the door, and the man and his wife, an African-American couple, handed the bag back to her. She opened the bag. The cash had been returned as well.

“I’m so grateful to you,” she said. “I want to give you a reward.”

The man looked at his wife. The apartment was threadbare. What could she possibly give them?

The man asked her, “I saw a mezuzah on the doorpost of the entrance to your apartment. Are you Jewish?”

Yes, she was.

“Well,” said the man, “then, as my reward, I want a blessing from you.”

“A blessing?” “I don’t understand.”

 “We are Christians,” he explained, “and the Bible tells us that God said to Abraham: ‘And I will bless those that bless you and curse the one who curses you.’ As a Jew, you are a descendant of Abraham. So, I want you to give me a blessing.” 

The woman was taken aback. Yes, she was Jewish, but not observant. And, the mezuzah had been placed there by a previous tenant. Besides, she did not know any blessings. 

“Well,” said the man, “I’m sure you can think of something.” 

And then, she did remember a blessing, something from her childhood.

“May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob keep you from harm.” 

On the way home, the couple stopped at a local restaurant.

But the man must have eaten some bad food, because he awoke early the next morning, doubled over with stomach cramps.

“I can’t go to work like this,” he told his wife. “What a disaster. I have a very important breakfast meeting today.”

“Nice ‘blessing’ you got from that woman, huh?” his wife laughed. 

That was the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. The breakfast meeting was scheduled for 8 a.m. on the 107th floor of the Windows on the World Restaurant at the World Trade Center.

In the spirit of this last story:

May God bless Tammy with continued good health, much happiness, and great success in all her work.

May God also bless all the TAMS, and all those who support Tammy in her endeavors.

And may God bless the U.S.A.

This section is for comments from's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Tammy agrees with or endorses any particular comment just because she lets it stand.
24 Comments | Leave a comment
  1. KCBob4Tam says:

    My daughter was in the 2nd grade(?) and I was working at Lucent. I made her breakfast and was getting ready and told her to watch the news as a small plane or news copter ran into a building. As I was brushing my teeth she started yelling at me that a big plane had run into the other building. At the same time the guy on my radio was going nuts. After taking her to school I went to work and we were watching TV all day. I’ll always remember about 3pm the lines at the 66 station across the street. There were cars for blocks and people were fighting and yelling at each other. It was nuts. I’m not sure exactly when reality set in and the disbelief subsided. I know for several years afterwards I would take the day off, get plenty of snacks and tissues, and watch MSNBC’s early replay and then all the specials on History. Even after all this time it never gets easier.

    I’ll always remember a view like this flying into NY. All you could see was the towers and the Empire State Building.

  2. Kitten says:

    Shifra, thank you for sharing your story on this day of remembrance, and especially for the blessing. I receive it!

    This life is but a vapor. During the course of an average life span, we take part in and witness countless events. Miraculously, only a precious few are indelibly itched in our mind (our very soul) forever. This is true whether the event is a good one, or unspeakably evil.

    I can’t imagine being in NYC that day, or what New Yorkers must have felt while it was happening. But as an American, I felt the pain, anguish, and horror of watching fellow Americans suffer as this took place on LIVE TV. I’m sure each one of us can recall exactly where we were and what we were doing when we learned about the attack on our nation.

    While life ended for almost 3000 souls that day, when the sun came up on September 12, 2001 and you woke up in America, September 11th was a day you’d never forget. May we NEVER forget.

  3. MaryVal says:

    I was at work at the hospital when the planes struck the towers, listening on the radio. Work came to a complete halt in all the non-critical areas. I remember the stunned disbelief on the faces of everyone around me. The hospital waiting rooms with televisions filled up with visitors, patients, and staff members, watching in complete silence. No one had any words. Listening to the news on the radio in my office area with my co-workers, we heard a near-hysterical reporter on the scene saying the World Trade Center was specially designed and constructed to withstand earthquake, and could not, would not fall. I said to my co-workers, what complete nonsense. There is nothing that man has made that is indestructible. The words had no sooner left my mouth than we heard the roar of the first tower fall drown out the commentary of this idiot reporter.

  4. LJZumpano says:

    Shifra, thank you for sharing. It still hurts so much, and even today it seems like no time has passed. The memories are still vivid.

  5. rosebud2186 says:

    Thanks Shifra, for sharing. I won’t pretend to understand what those in the thick of things experienced that day. As for me, I watched from the Mid-West. It was frightening. It was horror. I remember thinking that the terror just kept coming – another, another,another plane. We prayed for the victims & families. We prayed for the country. We prayed for the President. We still pray. :’)

  6. Pat_S says:

    I was being kept informed via email by someone who was watching TV. I also couldn’t imagine what she meant by saying the building fell. “What do you mean? It crashed to the ground?” “Yes.” The mind struggled to imagine such a thing.

    When I got home from work that evening there was coverage of the loved ones congregating and posting pictures of their loved ones who worked in the WTC. You could see how stunned they were not only by the incomprehensible event itself, but by the implications for their loved ones who didn’t come home.

    A reporter was granting air time to individuals to show pictures of their loved ones. “Has anyone seen this person?” They were respectful of each other but still pressing to be the one selected by the reporter to make an appeal. I don’t know how many were reunited as a result of that public beseeching. I remember one in particular whom I am sure was not.

    It was so heartbreaking. A dazed young women holding a picture of her sister spoke to the camera. She said her sister was very athletic. She worked out and ran marathons. If anyone sees her tell her to call home. She worked on the 104th floor.

    How could it be that her sister went to work, may have just gotten her morning coffee, started up her computer then a plane flies into the building? It was of course a kind of madness to think her sister might have survived. It was too overwhelming for the young woman’s mind. And so, the mind suggests her sister’s athleticism might have been a sufficient defense against the inferno, that her sister was walking the streets and needed to be reminded to call home. The preposterous was more believable than reality.

    I wonder if that woman has ever been able to process what happened. After all these years, on the anniversary I don’t think I have yet been able to process what happened.

  7. midget says:

    Shifra, I couldnt read your story without tears. I am so grateful that you & your family are safe. Thank you for your blessing on us. May God bless you and yours as well.

  8. WalkStar says:

    My Dear Shifra,
    No words are sufficient so please accept this big giant hug from me, my husband and son. Xo WalkStar

  9. Di Grace says:

    A few years ago I read this quote from the Talmud, “The deeper the sorrow the less tongue it hath.” As I read your article I was stunned into silence by the various stories. There are no adequate words. Blessings to you. Thank God your husband was kept safe. Prayers for those who lost loved ones. May God comfort them as only He can.

  10. Alain41 says:

    Good Slate article about the likely first victim of the 911 hijackings, Danny Lewin. Born in Denver, his family moved to Israel (repatriated) when he was 14. Strong and smart, he became a member of the Israel Defense Force and started a successful internet company.

  11. cestory says:

    Your post brought me to tears! Thanks for sharing. ((Hugs))

  12. sandyl says:

    All these comments are so perfectly stated. I too read your stories Shifra and was brought to tears as well as silence. All too terrible for words and still feels so fresh in all our hearts. I pray for God’s forgiveness and His blessings.

  13. ancientwrrior says:

    Thank you Shifra for the shared memories of that horrific day of Sept 11,2001. Every one it seems has memories of where they were on that day. I remember driving in to work on that morning to the Raytheon defense plant in Tucson and noticing how eerie it seemed that there were NO aircraft aloft at that time. (The plant was adjacent to Tucson’s airport and all flights were grounded.) At work many of the people were clustered around numerous TV monitors that were streaming the news happening in N.Y., and all seemed stunned and in shock. I too wandered around in a daze while doing my work. This was the 2nd traumatic and momentous event I had been through now. You see I was there at Pearl Harbor as a toddler where my parents had a home about 1/4 mile from the shore of Pearl and my dad personally witnessed the attack on 1941. Though I was too young to have personal memories of the event, it was something you absorbed from all those closely around you and you felt it and it became part of you.
    May God Bless you dear lady and all those dear to you.

  14. Charles_TX says:

    Shifra, Thanks for sharing your story. That tragedy affected people all over the country. I was taking my youngest son to school that morning. When I heard on the radio that planes hit the WTC my demeanor changed so much that my son asked what it meant. I told him that tens of thousands of people worked in those buildings. I dropped him and started my commute to my university north of Houston.

    The news that the towers fell came during my commute. When I got to class I was shaking. One of the more perceptive older students asked what was wrong. I told them that the WTC buildings collapsed with people trapped inside. One of the students screamed and ran out of the room. It turned out that her aunt and cousin worked in one of the buildings. They survived, but every 9/11 I can still see the horror in that student’s face in my minds eye.

  15. […] of all the items I read today, this one from Shifra (producer of The Tammy Bruce Show) stuck me most deeply. It recounts a blessing given by a Jewish woman to Christians who had just returned her […]

  16. LucyLadley says:

    Powerful Post, Shifra!

  17. TigerAim says:

    Wow, Shifra! Yes, very touching & powerful! Thank you so much for sharing. And, G-d’s continued blessings on you & your family, as well.

  18. Shifra says:

    TAMS: I am very moved by your responses. Thank you. Very appreciated.

    I think we were all horrified, stunned and in pain that day, whether in NYC or not. I can’t imagine what it must have been like to wake up on the West Coast to the news of the terrorist attack.

    Pat_S asks a good question about the woman who lost her sister; Has she been able to process what happened?

    Last year, one of my daughters met a young woman who lost her husband on 9/11; she was expecting their first child at the time. The woman named her son Lior, and she also gave him a middle name, a very unusual Hebrew name: Avichai (Avi means “my father” and chai means “life”)

    Yesterday, this woman, who has since remarried, wrote the following on Facebook; (As she is originally from France, English is not her native language, but I know that her message is very clear.)

    “Life is about getting up and move on; we never forget, we just stand up, gather our strength and build up because we have no choice. Otherwise we just fall. That’s not an option. The Master of the World works His ways, it’s not up to us to understand. Thank You for what we have.
    Today Lior spoke in front of his schoolmates and I m proud of him, what he became.”

  19. Rob_W says:

    Shifra, thank you for sharing your experiences with us, and recalling so many images etched on our memories, such as the bridges crowded with pedestrians as they made their way home. So important that we never forget. Blessings to us all.

  20. ShArKy says:

    thanks for your post shifra! it brought tears to my eyes on several occasions. i’ve always felt that history will be split into 2 parts. before 9.11 and after 9.11. as i woke that morning for no particular reason at a little before 9 that sunny clear day, i watched the second plane hit live on television. i’d suspected we were under attack after the first plane hit but this just confirmed it in my mind. i knew the towers would fall or at least burn out eventually because of the height and severity of the fires, so i was amazed that firefighters would be sent into a deathtrap the way they were. i’ll never forget watching the first tower fall as i gasped at seeing the way it came down. it was like a movie i’d never seen before. for the first time in my life i wondered if humanity would make it past the next 100 years. i think the main thing that i took from the whole experience was how deranged the world was becoming, but that if we americans were united, we would make it. i’m lucky enough to say that i didn’t know anyone who was killed that day but like many others, my life will never be the same. i have never been down to ground zero, even though i only lived 43 miles north. i just figured my presence would not have been important in the bigger scheme of things. in closing, i sincerely hope that tammy, along with all of our tamily will be protected.

  21. ConservativeSue says:

    Shifra, thank you for your memories of that horrible day…you were there. 🙁 On 9-11-2001, I was still living in Peoria, IL but had already turned in my two-week notice at my job to prepare to move to Arizona. I woke up that sunny morning, turned on the tv just to see the second plane slam into the other tower. I changed channels several times and saw Andy Card whispering in GWB’s ear as he was in the classroom with the children. I knew that those planes weren’t “accidental dives” into the towers. The rest of the day was a blur, and I was glad I wasn’t scheduled to work my usual closing shift at the deli in the Peoria OTB. What happened later in the city was unusual as atm’s weren’t dispensing money so people had to go to their banks or credit unions to withdraw cash. The city came to a standstill..almost. Very odd. There was already a lack of jobs in Peoria, and the 9-11 attack only added more woes. I was glad to be leaving.

  22. I kind of know how Shifra felt that day. My husband was looking at a potential construction job on a high floor of the Empire State Bldg on the morning 9/11. After watching the second tower get hit, all I could think of is they are going
    to attack the Empire State next. Of course, with the cell phones overloaded I could not reach him for several hours. It’s a day I remember as if it were yesterday, and the reason I started my blog, albeit 7 years later.

    Love the story about the old Jewish woman.

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