By Lenis Rodrigues, Media Relations Staff
Almost seven years ago, Port Authority Police Lt. Scot Pomerantz set out on a mission to have the Hanukkah menorah returned to the rebuilt World Trade Center site.
Before 9/11, two identical 7½ foot menorahs created by Michael and Bonnie Berkowicz were fixtures in the Twin Towers every Hanukkah season, a shining light for all who passed through the lobbies during the eight days of the annual Jewish holiday. But the menorahs’ lights were extinguished forever in the collapse of the towers.
Fast forward to 2011. Pomerantz, president of the Shomrim Society of the Port Authority, decided to bring the light back to the World Trade Center. It was a challenging task. All that was left of the previous menorahs were photos and articles that appeared in The Diary, at the time the newspaper of the Port Authority.
With so little to go on, Pomerantz and his Shomrim Society team turned once again to Bonnie and Michael Berkowicz, the creators of the original menorahs, to develop a new design. For Pomerantz, it was important that the designers incorporate a piece of World Trade Center steel in the new menorah, to represent a symbol of resiliency.
Once the new menorah was created, the next challenge was finding a public space that could accommodate it every December. That turned out to be the World Trade Center Transportation Hub Oculus, where hundreds of thousands of people pass through each day.
Yesterday, for the first time since 9/11, a menorah was lit at the World Trade Center site to mark Hanukkah. The donation from the Berkowicz family is located on the east side of the Oculus on the C2 level and will remain up until January 7.
“We now have a beautiful new WTC that stands as a symbol of resilience to those who tried but failed to change our way of life,” Pomerantz said. “Our menorah, like the new WTC, is reborn, like the Hanukkah story. We wanted to make sure all who see this menorah remember the days when the original menorah stood in freedom.”
The ceremony yesterday was both celebratory and reflective. Port Authority Chaplain Rabbi Mandy Carlbach blessed the menorah, followed by the lighting of the candles by members of the Shomrim Society.
“The design of the menorah is meant to show that individuals, as individual threads, may be weak, but when woven together as a united community, they become strong,” said Michael Berkowicz. “Ceremonial objects like menorahs have, for thousands of years, been used to enhance and bring meaning to celebrations, and this Hanukkah menorah is one of these special objects.”