Jerusalem Blast Victim Survived WTC Attack

Twin Towers terror survivor Mark Sokolow cheated death for the second time yesterday when he and his family escaped with their lives from a bombing on a crowded Jerusalem street.

Now his family is trying to figure out if he's lucky or cursed.

Sokolow, 43, was fleeing his law office in the World Trade Center's south tower when the second of two terror planes hit the complex on Sept. 11 — and, along with thousands of others, he managed to get out alive.

Yesterday, he was standing on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem when a female bomber blew herself up, injuring Sokolow, his wife, Rena, 44, and their daughters Lauren, 16, and Jamie, 12.

One man and the bomber were killed.

"If you're an optimist, you call him lucky; if you're a pessimist, you call him unlucky," said Sokolow's brother, Noam.

The brother paused and added, "That's how we're looking at it. He's obviously very lucky."

Sokolow, of Cedarhurst, L.I., said he'd gone with his family to the popular shopping street — a target of several suicide attacks — to buy some shoes, and was waiting for a relative to meet them when the bomb went off.

"I heard a loud whoosh, like a bang, and I kind of saw things flying around a little bit, and then I realized I was able to get up and walk around," Sokolow said.

He said he had been worried about terrorism — but figured it would be OK to make a quick purchase and leave.

Sokolow was cut on his face and right side.

Rena was the most seriously injured of the family, undergoing surgery last night to remove shrapnel from her leg.

Jamie was hit by flying glass in the eye, and Lauren was being treated for loss of hearing.

The four family members were taken to three different hospitals in the chaos after the blast.

Recalling the WTC attacks, Sokolow said, "I was obviously a lot luckier last time. This one involved my whole family."

Sokolow is a partner in the law firm Thacher, Proffitt and Wood, which had offices on the 38th floor of the south tower.

His father, Al Sokolow, 73, recalled his son's brush with death on 9/11.

"He has barely recuperated from that narrow escape, evacuating the building, feeling the building shake and shudder while the plane hit it," Al Sokolow said. "It shook him."

He said his son was in his office when the first hijacked plane hit the north tower, and he and his colleagues immediately began the harrowing evacuation down the stairs.

"When they got close to the concourse, they felt their building was hit," Sokolow's father said.

But Sokolow got out and, with the subways still running, was able to get a train away from the area.

Mark Sokolow and his family had flown to Israel to visit his oldest daughter, Elana, 18, who is in the middle of a year of study at a yeshiva.

"To go through a terrorist attack two times within the space of just months is hard to believe," said his father.

"I tell you, when he got out from the first one, I sent an e-mail to my granddaughter in Israel, telling her that I know that someone was watching over him.

"The anniversary of my mother's death was in the same week as the World Trade Center catastrophe, so obviously, she was watching over him. I think she watches over all of us."

Reflecting on his son's string of strange luck, he said, "Thank God he survived this one, too. In my mind, it's the same thing. Terrorists attacked over here, terrorists attacked over there. There is no difference."

Mark Sokolow said in Israel yesterday that he decided to travel to Israel only after Sept. 11.

"We were meant to go on vacation elsewhere. We changed our plans to bring our whole family here," Sokolow said.

"We just felt it was more important that we do this and come here and spend time in Israel, as opposed to going elsewhere."

The Sokolows were due to board a plane yesterday for their return to the United States — but they were caught in the bombing before they could leave for the airport.

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