A Retrospective (also see the Prepare New York website)
Over 50,000 participants
250 conversations, and counting (click here for the most current list):
9 religious traditions
52 houses of worship
20 political offices (City Council &
34 community organizations/
8 parks/community gardens
15 web-based programs
6 Prepare New York Founding Coalition Organizations (including ICNY)
100 Action and Congregational Partners
How do you summarize the phenomena that Prepare New York became? When the project launched in early January of this year, the mission was to create a city-wide climate that could promote healing and reconciliation during the tenth anniversary of 9/11. The method was simply to invite New Yorkers to create occasions where they and their diverse neighbors could come together, learn about each other, and express their feelings about the tragedy we suffered ten years before. Relationships of understanding and friendship were promoted with Muslim and Sikh New Yorkers who have suffered unfair, inaccurate, and dangerous assignments of blame in association with the attacks.
The response was positive, illuminating, often poignant, and extremely powerful.
Candles … Bells … Ribbons … Lanterns
Naturally, many of these occasions were somber expressions of grief and hope. Ongoing wounds were acknowleged: among bereaved family members, survivors, first responders, people who lived and worked downtown, and Muslims and Sikhs. The stories of those most impacted by the attacks spurred other New Yorkers to recall their own experiences of that day, and helped us remember how instinctively and sensitively we came together as a city in the aftermath of the tragedy. Over the anniversary weekend of 9/11, tens of thousands of ribbons that had been inscribed with sentiments of sorrow and optimism were brought together in a massive art installation. And on 9/11 itself, Japanese lanterns were released onto the Hudson River in remembrance of the dead as part of a larger interfaith memorial gathering.
Prayer … Discussion … Learning … Gestures of Respect
In all these events New Yorkers demonstrated a genuine desire to share their worlds with each other. In classrooms, offices, and houses of worship, speakers facilitated discussions about cultural and religious diversity. In Manhattan, a group of Sikhs invited the public to join them in prayer and a communal feast. Muslims throughout the city welcomed everyone to the table for Iftar, celebrating the end of the daily fast during Ramadan. Difficult questions about ongoing civil rights concerns were posed in hearings in New York and New Jersey. And at event after event throughout the city, prayers, hymns and meditations were offered by people of virtually every faith tradition in the world, many in joint, multi-faith commemorations over the 9/11 anniversary weekend.
Music … Art … Poetry … Theater … Dance … Film … Photography … Food
Each of the 250 events held throughout the year was a unique creation of New Yorkers who lent their individual resources and talents to the cause. A photography exhibit about veiled women provided opportunities for discussion about practices of head covering in different traditions Musicians from dissimilar religions improvised harmonies in an East Village community garden. Poets read their works, books were discussed, actors performed, dancers danced.
Now, as the year ends, and the Prepare New York initiative draws to a close, it is that uniqueness that stands out, alongside the willingness of so many to gather, learn and connect. Wounds remain. Tensions remain. But the impulse towards healing and reconciliation has been clearly visible, and will offer encouragement as recovery and dialogue continue.
Funding was provided by One NYC One Nation and the New York Council for the Humanities. Special advice and participation came from September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and the 9/11 Community for Common Ground Initiative.
Study and talk: fact sheets, discussion questions,
and discussion guides prepared for Prepare New York by the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious
Understanding are available for download: https://www.tanenbaum.org/prepareny)
Watch the film We the People and discuss.
Let us know about your conversation:
“Break Fast With Your Neighbors During Ramadan” PDF Flyer.
Panel: Three Women, Three Faiths, Three Choices to Cover: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zc6Vn-eBpLA
Interfaith Disaster Chaplains videos:
New York Daily News: “Ribbons of Hope”
My Fox News: Ribbons of Hope in NYC
News 14 Carolina: NC Residents Send Ribbons of Hope to New York