As I signed into the afternoon shift of my job as social worker in the dementia ward of the geriatric hospital in the heart of the Negev desert in Dimona Israel, there was some uneasiness in the air. Nothing defined - but a feeling of a great impending sadness.

The panoramic windows had the usual view of the desert, serene beauty, silence, blue skies and orange cliffs.

The patients, all with varying stages of Alzheimer's disease, greeted me with various degrees of pleasure or indifference, and got to work in the Snoozelen.

At about 4 pm local time a volunteer arrived, all agitated, claiming in a loud voice that there were rumors that an airliner had crashed into one of the twin towers in New York and it was ablaze.

I immediately switched on the central TV in the ward - and as the picture came into focus together with all patients and staff in the ward, I was overcome with horror: I am a native born New Yorker and emigrated to Israel in my childhood, and unlike most of my family, was, and still am, enamored with the big-apple, it's never ending tempo, it's soon to change majestic skyline and heart beat and it's resemblance with the big-orange (=Tel Aviv)

I was also acquainted, and had visited on several occasions the WTC, and felt that is was my home away from home.

The entire staff of the ward stood transfixed as there appeared another airplane out of nowhere, and the TV commentators (both from the US broadcast and the local Israeli news commentator) speculated in a mad cacophony of Hebrew and English if the plane was about to ..... !!

The crash and flash of the explosion as the plane slammed into tower #2 put a shocked silent end to the speculations, and one of the nurses screamed.

The staff of the ward - me included - are all veterans of many terror outrages. I myself was a combat paratrooper in the IDF and had seen action on several battlefields, and after my military service the police assisted funding my university studies until I received my license and degree in clinical social work - I had seen more than my share of wars, blown up body parts, crime scenes, blood and mourning. So had the rest of my staff - we were no strangers to terrorism and we felt that nobody in the world could appreciate the life of us Israelis that at that time had to cope with daily suicide killers - and at the same time continue life as usual, in spite of it all.

Soon we were to witness that the US would need to learn to live life as if there was no terrorism, and at the same time fight terrorism as if there was nothing else.

The sight of the blazing towers paralyzed us - for the first time: Several staff members started to silently sob, but all of us were paralyzed - we nearly stopped functioning, eyes riveted to the unfolding horror, and then there came news of another plane hitting the pentagon, and yet another plane crashing in rural Pennsylvania.

Is America really being attacked?

Then one of the patients - a small, white haired, frail holocaust survivor, while staring at the TV, walked up to me and told me in Yiddish that Warsaw was ablaze, and she must get to work to help the people, and she started filling cups with water from the cold water fountain and distributing the cups to patients and staff.

Just after that a patient, whose documents proved that she had once been a highly respected dermatologist, but for the past two years did not even speak, walked up to the duty physician in the ward, and in fluid Russian said that she was a doctor, and she demanded to help because she saw on television that there was a war (she did not realize that the war was thousands of miles and several years away) and the whole staff, doctor included, was crying, and that remimded her that she is a doctor - and she must resume her duties.

That scene repeated itself with many of the patients in the ward - when confronted with the situation that unfolded on that awesome day, they somehow succeeded to untangle the web of dementia - and for a brief time were shaken to reality.

I asked the first patient that had started with the water distribution what made her realize what was happening - and she said with a sad smile that it was tisha be-Av.

(In the Hebrew calendar the 9 th of Av is traditionally the date on which 10 of the 12 spies sent by Moses to investigate the land of Israel reported to Moses and the people that the inhabitants of the land of Israel could not be overcome. When the people of Israel heard that - they began mourning. God was angry that the people did not trust in him and proclaimed that since you are mourning without reason on this date - this day will forever be a day of infamy - and most of the calamities the befell our people happened on the 9 th of Av)

As a matter of fact September 11 2001 did not fall on, and can never fall on the 9 th of Av, but it is more than a coincidence that the dates match.

- (The 9 th day of the month of Av in the Hebrew calendar or 11/9) Av is the 11 th month in the Hebrew calendar - It was NOT 11/9 - it was the ninth day of the general calendar - it was 9/11.

The day of catastrophe - 9/11 or 11/9 - two nations, one date in common.

Author's Bio: 

My name is David Ben-Gershon, and I am a licensed Social Worker and legal mediator in Israel, with over 30 years experience in an eclectic range of fields including substance abuse, geriatrics, divorce etc.