On Thursday afternoon, Binghamton University students honored the memories of the 2,977 victims who lost their lives on Sept. 11, 2001 by contributing to the greater good of society.
“Mitzvah Marathon,” coordinated by Chabad and Hillel, encouraged all BU students to do a mitzvah, or good deed, in honor of those who perished in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
“We’re trying to commemorate people who passed away in a positive way, so light can come from darkness, do good in the place of bad,” said Leora Lyon, president of Hillel’s committee of social justice and a junior majoring in psychology. “Some people can’t connect to the sad part, so we’re finding a way so everyone can connect to the day and commemorate it.”
The mitzvahs included a blood drive in the Old Union Hall, making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the Salvation Army, donating cans of food to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) and encouraging students to sign up to volunteer at a hospital.
“This reaches throughout the entire campus, not just as a religious event,” said Chabad Rabbi Levi Slonim. “Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches aren’t a Jewish thing. Neither is donating food to CHOW. It’s just good deeds, and we’re privileged to offer this to the community.”
The marathon began at Binghamton’s Chabad 13 years ago, on Sept. 11, 2002.
“You have to remember, Binghamton is close to [New York] City, and we have a lot of students from [New York] City,” Slonim said. “It’s not somewhere in Arizona; it really hit home for a lot of people, and we were looking for a meaningful way to commemorate the victims.”
A memorial wall was erected in front of the New Union and was decorated with portraits of alumni who died when the Twin Towers collapsed.
The Marathon has spread to universities around the country, from BU to the University of Central Florida.
Organizers said they hoped to remind students of a day that, while never forgotten, might be hazy in some people’s memories.
“September 11 is something that’s important to all Americans,” said Todd Spiro, president of Chabad and a senior majoring in industrial and systems engineering. “And most of the people who go to college right now were in first, second, third grade and it’s something that should be true to our hearts. So having this remembrance, right on the Spine, I think we’re doing a great job paying our respects.”
Gabrielle Alexander, the event’s coordinator and a junior majoring in mathematics, agreed.
“It’s not only commemorating the victims, but in honor of all victims of terror,” Alexander said. “On this day where so many people died, it’s nice to remember all these people who fought for our country or were victims of terror.”