Last Saturday evening, in the hours after the attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, I tried to prepare myself for facing our Beit Sefer students on Sunday morning. After consulting many other Jewish professionals and teachers of young children, I determined that the best way forward was to check in with the teachers, be prepared to reassure and comfort, and to let the students be the guide to how much information to share, by answering questions but not going into extra detail.
As it turned out, none of the younger kids brought it up and so we went on with our planned lessons. The oldest class did have a discussion about anti-Semitism, not really focused on Pittsburgh. I arranged for a room for parents to talk to each other, and I invited Laurie White to lead the school in song for the closing half hour.
All in all, I was over-prepared for last Sunday. But now, going on a week later, I have a sense that more of the Beit Sefer students will have heard about the massacre and may have further questions and reactions. I’m glad I began my preparation immediately.
I would really appreciate hearing from any of you who have questions, advice, or anecdotes to share from your family’s experiences in dealing with this tragedy. I saw many of you at the community vigil at TBE on Sunday evening, which I found to be moving and strengthening.
I have received many helpful resources for responding to the tragic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and I want to share just a few of them here.
From Rabbi Joshua Lesser, “THE TREE OF LIFE: Navigating Conversations With Our Children After Acts of Violence and Anti-Semitism.”
From Moving Traditions and Rabbi Tamara Cohen, “Guidance for Jewish educators and parents: Helping Teens in the wake of Pittsburgh.”
Resources for Interfaith families on anti-Semitism.
An article by Jewish activist Dove Kent and AME Reverend Jennifer Bailey, “Charleston to Tree of Life: White Nationalism is a Threat to Us All,” reminds us that this week’s shooting in a synagogue is part of continuing terrorism, and that we have foundations of solidarity to build on.
A video from the Pittsburgh protest of Trump’s visit, organized by Bend the Arc, is balm.
And finally, the Jewish community worldwide is calling for Nov 2-3 to be a #ShowUpforShabbat shabbat. This article from The Forward reminds us that “this Shabbat is a good time to remember that racial profiling has zero place in Judaism and Jewish spaces.” AARC does not have shabbat services this Friday or Saturday, but our congregants are welcome at any of the area’s services, a list of which will be sent to you soon.
by Yehuda Amichai, translated by Chana Bloch:
“Poem Without an End”
Inside the brand-new museum
there’s an old synagogue.
Inside the synagogue
Inside my heart
Inside the museum
inside my heart