Aaron Goldstein: Where St. Nicholas Once Stood





[Aaron Goldstein writes from Boston, Massachusetts.]

With all the talk of building a mosque in the shadow of the World Trade Center, how many of you knew there was a church that once stood in the shadow of the World Trade Center? And how many of you knew this same church was destroyed on September 11, 2001?

I must confess that until a few weeks ago I wasn't aware that a church was among the property that was leveled in Lower Manhattan that Tuesday morning. When the South Tower collapsed, it took St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church with it. All that remained were two religious icons and handful of liturgical items. Fortunately, no one was inside St. Nicholas at the time of the collapse. But what had been the center of the Greek Orthodox community in New York City for nearly eighty years was wiped out in a matter of seconds.

Under the circumstances, one would think a house of worship would be rebuilt forthwith. How many religious institutions in America are destroyed as a result of an act of terrorism? Imagine for a moment that on September 11, 2001, a mosque had been destroyed in the vicinity of the World Trade Center. Don't you think heaven and earth would have been moved to rebuild that mosque? Yet nine years later, not an inch of brick or mortar has been laid down to rebuild St. Nicholas.

As the City of New York was approving plans for the construction of the Ground Zero Mosque, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey jettisoned a deal that would have permitted the rebuilding of St. Nicholas. Of course, the Ground Zero Mosque has powerful allies with the likes of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Obama both of whom expressed their support for the mosque as a matter of religious freedom. Yet where were Mayor Bloomberg's tears for St. Nicholas? What does President Obama have to say about the right of the Greek Orthodox community "to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in Lower Manhattan"?..

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