Remembering the locals

Two North­east vic­tims of the World Trade Cen­ter at­tacks are gone but will nev­er be for­got­ten.

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 twar­

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