This 9/11 story for children is adapted from my book "And God Cried Too: A kid's book of healing and hope." (Harper Collins, 2002)
Angels like to sit on clouds and look down at the earth. In the daytime, they like looking at the clouds and the sun making sparkles on the sea. In the evening, they like looking at the lights. One bright morning on September 11, 2001, Mikey, an angel in training, saw millions of angels flying over to the edge of a high cloud. He flew with them and saw that Gabe, Mikey's teaching angel, was also looking down at the earth with all the other angels. Mikey asked Gabe, "What's going on?" Gabe said, "A very bad thing just happened down there on earth! We are getting ready to go down there and help. This is a big emergency. God is sending all the spare angels and even the angels in training down to earth to help."
"I'm scared too," said Mikey. "Who is gonna help me? I just learned how to fly and I don't know how to help people yet."
"God is going to help all of us, but it is going to take time and it is going to be hard," said Gabe. They flew down to earth and right into the upper floors where planes had hit some very tall buildings. There was smoke and fire everywhere. People were screaming, "Help us! Help us!"
Mikey didn't know which way to turn and then he saw a dog. It was a guide dog leading a blind man, but the dog was coughing and the man was coughing and they could not find their way out. "Follow me!" Mikey said to the dog (Mikey spoke pretty good dog). Mikey led the dog and the man hanging onto the dog's collar to the stairs and they started to walk down. The stairs were filled with angels and people coughing and crying and screaming. Mikey had never seen anything like it ever, ever, ever. They walked down stairs and stairs. The dog said to Mikey, "I am scared and my throat hurts." Mikey said, "Don't worry we are going to get out of here. Keep going; just keep going down these stairs."
After a few minutes that seemed like a few hours, they got down to the ground and ran out into the street. The street was bad, but it was much better than the building filled with smoke and fire. Gabe was down on the street already. He saw Mikey and screamed at him, "Get away from the buildings NOW!" They ran and ran and got to a place where some firefighters and police were helping people. They gave water to the dog. The blind man hugged his dog and cried, "Honey, thank you. Good dog! Was somebody leading you out?" Honey the guide dog said, "Woof," which means, "Angel" in dog. Mikey then flew back into the building again and again trying to help people get out.
Suddenly, a huge roar and rumble shook the building and it began to crash down. Mikey flew out a window in the nick of time and saw the building crash down. Angels were flying everywhere but through the dust Mikey could see people and angels helping people on the street.
Then Mikey saw a tower of sparks flying up from the ground and through the dust and smoke and into the air and straight up, higher and higher. "God is taking them straight to Heaven," Gabe said choking on his tears. "Those sparks are the souls of all the people who died here today. Almost always when a person dies the angel who watched over that person takes his or her soul to Heaven but today, Mikey, it is God who is taking them all up to Heaven. What a terrible and sad day."
"I will never understand this," Mikey said softly.
"Nobody understands this," Gabe said. "Let's go home now."
As they flew back to Heaven, all the angels were part of the tower of sparks reaching to Heaven. It looked like a big bonfire had been stirred up and the sparks from the fire were rising into the sky like a huge tornado of little lights. On the way back to heaven, a gentle rain washed off all the dust and dirt from the angels who had flown down to earth to help. To most of the angels it just looked like rain, but Gabe hugged Mikey and whispered to him, "These are God's tears."
May all their memories be for a blessing.
SEND QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS to The God Squad at firstname.lastname@example.org or Rabbi Marc Gellman, Temple Beth Torah, 35 Bagatelle Rd., Melville, NY 11747.