Mother of Israeli Killed on 9/11: I Don't Want Comfort, I Want My Son

Yehudit Levinhar, whose son was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center, expresses remorse that bin Laden wasn't captured before he helped carry out attack on Twin Towers.

Yehudit Levinhar, who son, Shai Levinhar, was killed in the attack on the World Trade Center in New York on September 11, 2001, says the assassination of Osama bin Laden provides no comfort. "We were not looking for comfort, we are looking for our son, and that will not bring the boy back to us," Levinhar told Haaretz in an interview on Sunday.

Shai Levinhar, who was 29 years old when he was killed, worked for the brokerage firm of Cantor Fitzgerald, on the 103rd floor of the north tower. He was married to Liat and the father of Sapir, who was six weeks old when he died.

Yehudit Levinhar - Moti Milrod
Moti Milrod

In October 2001 his body was found in the rubble of the towers, and was brought to Israel for burial.

Shai's brother, Raz, died of heart failure in September 2009, five days before the anniversary of the attack on the Twin Towers.

"When I saw the pictures of the rejoicing American citizens with the White House in the background, I didn't feel joy, but rather a great deal of sorrow and frustration. What we wanted to happen did not happen. Bin Laden wasn't captured before he managed to carry out the attack on the Twin Towers. The fact that he was caught now doesn't exactly help, from our point of view," she said.

As to whether the strike against bin Laden gives closure to the family, Yehudit Levinhar says: "It doesn't really speak to us, although it is so closely connected. The fact that he was caught doesn't help us. I spoke with Liat, Sapir's mother. She also says she feels disconnected from the whole event."

Levinhar heard about the bin Laden assassination from her youngest daughter, Mor, who called her at 6:30 yesterday morning. "When the phone rings at an unusual hour at our house, it's a sign the news is not good. I was worried and asked her what happened. 'Mom, we got a present for Shai's birthday, turn on the television,' she said. She was trying to show it in a positive way. Shai's 39th birthday was Sunday," Levinhar said.

"Like every year, we went to the cemetery and celebrated for him. We laid 39 red roses on his grave. Afterward I cried for a few hours," she added.

Levinhar says that Sapir, who is now nine and a half years old, has recently been found to be a gifted child. "Shai himself was very good-looking and very successful. Someone said about him in one of the articles after he died that he was a combination of inner and outer beauty. When Sapir was found to be gifted, she came to tell me. She said, 'well, it's not such a big thing that I'm gifted - I'm Shai's daughter.'"

Levinhar says Sapir grew up on Shai's photographs. "We have a video segment where Shai is holding her for the first time after she was born and saying to her 'say daddy.' When Sapir was a year old she held Shai's picture and said 'daddy' to it," Levinhar says.

Levinhar says that of the four families of the Israelis who were killed in the Twin Towers attack, the three that live in Israel keep in very close touch. The fourth family, that of Israeli victim Daniel Lewin, lives in the United States.

"Each family carries out its own commemoration events and we make sure to invite the other families," Levinhar says.

Seven memorial sites have been created so far in various cities in Israel, according to Levinhar. "At the entrance to Jerusalem is an amazing memorial to all the victims of the attack. We established Shai Park near our home in Neveh Monoson."

Levinhar also said that a park has been established in Ashdod, the hometown of Alona Avraham, one of the Israeli victims and that a monument at Bar-Ilan University commemorates another of the victims, Hagay Shefi.