The family of Alisha Levin has mourned her loss for 10 years. Levin, who grew up on the 1300 block of Wells St. in Castor Gardens and graduated from Northeast High School in 1986, was killed in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 as she worked in the World Trade Center.
“It never heals,” Marvin Levin said of the pain of losing his daughter.
At the same time, the Levin family believes Alisha has been a presence in their lives this past decade.
“She’s been with us all the time,” her dad said.
The Levins have made sure some good came out of that horrible day 10 years ago, when almost 3,000 Americans died in attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and in a field in Somerset County, where a plane crashed after passengers and crew confronted hijackers.
The Alisha C. Levin Memorial Fund was established in 2002. It benefits scholarships at her alma maters, Northeast and Hofstra University, located in Hempstead, N.Y. Some of the money is directed to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House.
“She loved kids, she really did,” said her mother Audrey.
Levin’s two favorite kids were her nephews Jake and Alex, the children of her sister and brother-in-law, Mindy and Mitchell Gottenberg. Jake was 5 when his aunt died. Alex was 2.
“She was a wonderful person,” said Jake, a 15-year-old sophomore at Lower Moreland High School. “She’d buy me presents and always spoiled me.”
On Saturday, a day before the 10th anniversary of the attacks, the Levin family and friends gathered at Alverthorpe Park in Abington for the first Alisha Levin Memorial Run to Remember. About 200 people ran and walked the 5k course to raise money for the scholarship fund, which assists students who have strong academic credentials and an interest in the arts.
“We thought it would be a good way to reflect while walking about how lucky you are,” Mindy Gottenberg told participants at the starting line, adding that she’d like to make it an annual event.
Levin grew up playing whiffle ball and wire ball. She liked to eat lunch at Lenny’s Hot Dogs and Continental Pizza. Her jobs included ticket-taker at the old Benner Movie Theater.
At Hofstra, she was active with the Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority. She later earned a master’s degree in the arts from Columbia University and stayed in New York to work. At just 33, she was vice president of human resources for Fuji Bank, which occupied the 79th to 82nd floors of the World Trade Center’s South Tower.
Living in New York enabled her to spend time with her cousin, Cindy Roseman Leibovitch, who said the city was on high alert as the 10th anniversary approached.
“I live it every day,” she said.
Levin had been working at Fuji for three years when she was killed. The first hijacked airplane crashed into the North Tower, and Levin left telephone messages with her mother and sister that she was OK. That was the last communication between her and her family. The second hijacked plane crashed into the South Tower on the floors where Fuji was located.
Mindy Gottenberg and her husband and their cousin Richard Roseman traveled to New York to see if they could find more information. Sadly, Levin was one of 23 Fuji Bank employees killed, and the company later welcomed family members to a memorial event in Japan.
Marvin Levin honors his daughter by blowing kisses up to the sky and kissing her picture. He was humbled by Saturday’s large turnout.
“Family has rallied around us,” he said.
The Levins traveled to New York after the run. It was emotional to see Alisha’s name on the new memorial and therapeutic, they believe, to meet with a 9/11 survivors group. They also attend support group meetings in the Philadelphia area.
The family travels to New York each June 7, Alisha’s birthday, to honor her memory and have lunch with her friends. Marvin Levin, whose birthday is May 1, received a nice present this year. That was the day Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden, who oversaw the terrorist attacks.
On Monday, Hofstra honored Levin and other alums lost in the attacks with a moment of silence and the placing of American flags at the Circle of Remembrance.
Some years ago, Northeast honored Levin by placing a collage of photos of her on a wall, while a bench memorializes her at Shalom Memorial Park.
“She deserves it,” her mom said of the tributes.
Like almost 3,000 other Americans, Levin lost her life on what started out as a routine late-summer morning and ended with a date on the calendar few Americans will ever forget. ••
Donations can be sent to The Philadelphia Foundation, 1234 Market St., Suite 1800, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Write “Alisha C. Levin Memorial Fund” on the memo line of the check.
Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or firstname.lastname@example.org