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3,000 Tributes for 3,000 Victims

By , BINGHAMTON, NY

Fourteen hundred students and faculty members took part in a 36 hour-long September 11th commemorative event at Binghamton University last week. Chabad’s Mitzvah Marathon, co-sponsored by Hillel and the Jewish Heritage Program, won the attention of university president Lois DeFleur and Rodger Summers, vice president of Student Affairs, both of whom participated with their own mitzvot.

A pavilion set up in the center of campus displayed nearly 3,000 photos of victims of September 11th–on their flipside a form where participants could fill out their information and any good deed they would take on in memory of the deceased. Sporting pins with the logo: “Do a mitzvah today. Twin Towers stand eternal: Goodness and Kindness. A little light dispels much darkness,” participants then strung the photos on lines running between replicas of the two Twin Towers.

“The program was planned to appeal to a wide range of people from across the spectrum,” says Chabad representative Mrs. Rivkah Slonim. So the choice of good deeds varied greatly from making sandwiches for the homeless, to a blood drive, volunteering for an animal shelter, donating money for Israel’s victims of terror and visiting the elderly and the sick. Among the specific mitzvot made available on site to honor the dead, many Jewish women and girls chose to light Shabbat candles, and numerous Jewish men opted to don tefillin. Others chose to read a chapter of Psalms, or study a page of Torah. And after a day filled with mitzvot, Chabad coordinated a Torahthon which kept students studying Torah throughout the night, utilizing every moment in appropriate and meaningful memorial tribute.

“The program drew a diverse group of students, both Jewish and gentile, shattering all barriers of color, race, religion and age by the level of involvement,” says RabbiYitzchok Creeger, program director at the Chabad House Student Center.

At a closing ceremony students shared their reflections on September 11th and the day’s program. Thankful for the chance to pay meaningful tribute to those killed, they all joined in a moving sing-a-long, to wrap up a remarkable day on campus. Follow-up campaigns are underway as students who signed up for various community services are assigned their individual task and receive a card to remind them of their respective resolutions.

According to Rabbi Creeger, “students here at Binghamton were not just reacting to evil, but were on the offensive, adding light into the world on this tragic day.”

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