NEW YORK – Many New Yorkers passed up formal Sept. 11 ceremonies around the city for quiet reflection and prayer in churches, mosques, temples and synagogues.
Some attended religious services, while others just stopped in for a few minutes to think about the past year and remember those who died in the devastating terrorist attacks.
"I saw it as my duty as a Muslim to commemorate this disaster," said Ben Larby, 60, of Manhattan, as he went into a Wednesday morning service at the Islamic Cultural Center of New York. "It's important, especially for Muslims, to pay respect to these people who perished without cause."
Nancy Kaufman and Barbara Schwartz, who are both Jewish, were also going to the mosque service to show their "solidarity with all religions," according to Kaufman.
"I’ve been listening to public radio and hearing about all the Muslim children being beaten up," Schwartz said. "I feel very badly."
Shari Solomon, 32, of Manhattan, said she found herself walking toward Midtown's Central Synagogue because she wasn't sure how else to spend the day.
"I have this overwhelming feeling of not knowing what to do with myself," she said. "It seemed like the only place to go that made sense. It's the only place that feels calm."
Solomon, whose close friend lost her husband on United Airlines Flight 93, said she tried to go to work but couldn't bear to stay.
"I feel really disoriented and lost today," she said. "I didn't think it would hit me this hard."
Linda Schapiro of Manhattan took Sept. 11 off and also went to Central Synagogue.
"People should reflect today," she said. "You do have to pause to remember what happened."
Jon Pearlman, 34, of Long Beach, N.Y, sought solace at St. Patrick's Cathedral on the first anniversary of the attacks.
"For the last couple of days, I haven't felt right," he said. "I needed to be here; I always get a good feeling when I come here. I'm a lot more at ease now."
He said St. Patrick's was comforting despite a brief but frightening incident that disrupted one of the masses there. During Holy Eucharist, a woman carrying a bag began screaming in what witnesses thought was Arabic. Some heard her say the word "Allah."
Minutes after worshippers ran outside in fear, police escorted her out, confiscated the plastic bag and took her away in handcuffs. Onlookers cheered.
Eunice Monderson, 56, of Queens, stopped into St. Patrick's to pray after calm had been restored at the cathedral.
"It's a day with an air of depression and I needed to do something to make myself feel better because I feel sad about what's going on," she said.
She wasn't alone in her sorrow. Marie Beirne, 55, of Manhattan, emerged from Central Synagogue in tears. She went to pray during her lunch hour.
"I don't know how to commemorate today because what's going on in the media and the city seems like the Disneyization of Sept. 11," she said. "I just prayed for some kind of guidance to be an instrument for the future to help New York."
Beirne said she also thought of those involved in the attacks who are often forgotten: the survivors who were severely injured (some of whom don't have health insurance) and the thousands who made it out of the towers physically unharmed but psychologically damaged.
"The trauma they're going through is such heartache," she said.
Khalid Hilaby, 40, of Queens went to the mosque Wednesday morning to reaffirm his belief that people need to "love all of creation."
"The anger of Allah will come if mankind and other mankind are always quarreling," he said.
Kabir Karim, 23, of Hoboken, N.J., attended the Muslim service at the mosque with his mother, Zarina Karim, who was visiting from England.
They came, he said, "for community spirit and to support those who were victims last year."
For Si Anthony, 61, a member of St. James Episcopal parish on the Upper East Side, going to church the morning of Sept. 11 was a given.
"It was like being at home with people we know and love," he said. "It was a very good thing to do."
Added his wife, Anne Anthony, 59: "This is a place where we could pray for peace around the world."