In his own words -The remarkable true story why Rich Wolkowitz was not in the WTC on Sept. 11


Richard Wolkowitz, Special For the Jewish Light

My last memory of the Twin Towers was this view from my airplane 20 years + 2 days before 9-11 (on 09-09-2001) as I flew in and out of NYC on a beautiful, calm sunny morning to fly home to be with Jenny and the girls after a 10 days overseas business trip to Switzerland.

Another client of mine, from New York had with two offices, one office in the Towers and another office in New Jersey, said he would then reschedule the October board meeting to September (9-10 and 9-11) as long as I was in New York City. I asked him not to reschedule it, keep it in October and I would fly back to NYC as I felt that I just needed to be home with Jenny and the girls after being out of the country for 10 days.

My client (who was also my largest client at that time) was very disappointed in me and for the rationale of my decision and he told me so. At that time, Phoebe was 1-and- half years old, Talia was 4 years old and Zoe was 6 years old. My largest and most important client was upset with me that I wanted to go home and be with my family rather than meet with him and his team, but I felt I made the right decision.

On the morning of September 11, 2001,  I was home and had breakfast with Jenny and the girls like every other routine morning. I kissed each of them goodbye as I left our house and drove to work downtown. About halfway to my office with KMOX radio on, I heard about the attack on the radio and Jenny also heard the same on TV and she called my cell crying.


About one minute into our call, my phone beeped in showing the telephone number of my client in NJ/NYC. I told Jenny that I needed to take a call and clicked over to answer that call. It was my client, crying as he told me that he and everyone from his company were safe and alive as our meeting in the Tower had been canceled and they all stayed in NJ. He broke down crying like a baby. I followed suit.

Since then, my client and I reconnect every September 11, (we did so last evening, again) to remember and heal from that terrible, tragic day and to catch up with each other and talk. We talk only about our respective families, the most important thing as we all realize.

Every September 11, I think about three things, first, the series of choices, decisions, and the rationale to make that ultimate decision to go or be home with my family. A different choice or decision / rationale would have changed the course of my/our family history.

Secondly, the thousands of other individuals and families who were not as fortunate as me/us and all the heroes who saved many thousands of lives. I pray for their loss and recovery, and heroism.

Third, the need to never forget.  Not have a short-term memory as if we forget and do not stay vigilant we will surely face another horrific attack of some type. Today, as we mourn the victims and their families, honor the heroes who saved lives, remember to thank our military and allies, let’s also give an extra hug, call, FaceTime, etc. to our loved ones and friends.

We are very, very fortunate.

I know I am.