Headspace: Standing Together With Pittsburgh
As I am sure many of you are aware, during Shabbat morning services this past Saturday, October 27, eleven people were murdered at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life Synagogue by a gunman who shouted “All Jews must die” as he opened fire. It soon became clear that the gunman’s social media communications were littered with anti-Semitic statements and other hateful words. Crimes of hate such as this one and the pipe bomb threats that were thwarted earlier in the week may make us adults wonder: will this ever end?
As I reflect on the hurt, heartache, and fear that our Jewish community must be feeling at this moment, I am also searching to find hope in the greater sense of connection that this horrific moment presents. Since this event, I have become aware of the many similarities our school has to The Tree of Life synagogue. This is a congregation that emphasizes the traditional Jewish values of inclusion, equity, and social justice - just as we do here at SFS. These shared values provide hope that two different institutions, from across the country, can do their part to address and hopefully eradicate hate and make a world that is less violent and more equitable.
Over the weekend, this resource from the organization Facing History & Ourselves was made available to all teachers. Depending on the age of students, and the developmental appropriateness, some SFS teachers provided opportunities to discuss the situation today. Parents of students in 4th-8th Grades, please know that we plan to reference the event in an already scheduled 4th-8th Grade assembly this afternoon. We will also hold a moment of silence. This seems fitting as the main focus of the assembly, coincidentally, is about overcoming hate and prejudice. Click here for more background on Andrew Maraniss, the author presenting to our students and faculty.
Knowing that you all, as parents, may not have shared any of this with your own child(ren), please feel free to access these resources as a way to engage at home. Moving forward, in a developmentally appropriate manner, we will continue to look for ways to try to further our understanding of antisemitism and religious bigotry. And, together, as a community, regardless of our faith, we can build upon our different backgrounds to better understand how we can stand up against hate.
- Facing History & Ourselves - Responding to Pittsburgh
- Child Mind Institute: Helping Children Cope With Frightening News
- PJ Library - Resources for Talking About Antisemitism
- NPR - How To Talk With Kids About Terrible Things
- National Association of School Psychologists: Talking to Children About Violence
- Teaching Tolerance - Beyond the Golden Rule: A Parent’s Guide To Preventing and Responding to Prejudice
Posted October 29, 2018