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The Rabbi of Ground Zero

A Chaplain's Recollections of 9-11

Colonel Jacob Z. Goldstein of the New York Army National Guard recalls the fateful events of September 11th as he tended to the spiritual needs at the site of the fallen towers and his experiences during the four and a half months he spent at Ground Zero. (Many viewers may find details described to be extremely disturbing. Viewer discretion advised.)

Called to Duty
Video | 3:18
Called to Duty
Receiving the Call from the National Command Center
The National Guard is mobilized and Col. Goldstein is told to report to the site of the World Trade Center.
Arriving at Ground Zero
Buildings Were Still On Fire
Col. Goldstein describes the scene at the site of the World Trade Center when he arrived.
Where Are the Survivors?
Trying to Make Order Amid Chaos
Col. Goldstein first realizes that no survivors are coming out of the fallen buildings.
Rosh Hashanah at Ground Zero
Prayers and Sounding the Shofar
A Jewish woman goes looking for services on Rosh Hashanah and hears the shofar at Ground Zero.
Chief Chaplain of Ground Zero
How Did a Rabbi Get the Job?
How did Col. Goldstein come to be charged with the responsibility of being the chief chaplain at Ground Zero?
Looking for Survivors
Families of Victims Arrive at the Scene
What happened when the families of the victims started to show up at Ground Zero in search of their loved ones.
A Yarmulka in the Rubble
Trying to Track a Victim's Identity
A soldier discovers a yarmulka among the rubble at Ground Zero and brings it to Col. Goldstein.
A Vietnam Vet at Ground Zero
Why did a veteran soldier disobey Col. Goldstein's orders while driving from the scene of Ground Zero?
A Makeshift Chapel in the Rubble
The authorities almost close down Col. Goldstein's makeshift "religion corner" -- an area of a collapsed subway station divided off with sheets of plywood.
A Sukkah at Ground Zero
Celebrating the Holiday of Sukkot
How a two and a half ton Army truck was turned into a mobile sukkah.
Kaddish at Ground Zero
Remembering a Fallen Hero of 9-11
A family says kaddish at Ground Zero for their loved one who died trying to save a coworker during the attack. The story of 9-11 hero, Abraham Zelmanowitz.
9-11 and the Holocaust
A Child of Holocaust Survivors Connects to His Parents at Ground Zero
Col. Goldstein reflects on how being at Ground Zero gave him a poignant connection to his parents who were concentration camp survivors.
The Chaplain and the President
Col. Goldstein's encounter with President George W. Bush.
It Was a Different City
New York City in the Days Following 9-11
Col. Goldstein recalls the incredible feeling of unity that was felt in New York City during the days following the attack.
Years later, we look back at the 9/11 terror attacks and ask what we have learned as Jews, as Americans and as people.
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