This is what I shared with the Religious School community at Temple Emanu-El
after the events at Tree of Life Synagogue:
Religious School on Sunday and Monday, we did not explicitly raise the tragic
events at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh with our students. We know that
every child is different, and each family must choose to handle the situation
in its own way. Yet, we also know that many of our children have questions and
fears that we, as their parents, want to address – not to mention our own,
I want to share with you the guidance I gave our faculty, which holds for
parents as well:
the children bring up the topic, don’t shut it down. Listen attentively to
what they have to say -- their concerns and their questions, their
thoughts and feelings -- and let that drive the conversation.
to answer questions factually without adding unnecessary details. Don’t
assume that your questions and concerns are theirs.
the children that Temple Emanu-El is a safe place; we are a sanctuary for
all people seeking comfort and support. Here at Emanu-El, there are many
adults who are looking out for them and who know exactly what to do to
prevent emergencies of all types from happening. A good example is that
when there is a fire drill, we all are trained to respond quickly and
safely. There are other things that the kids don’t know about that we, the
adults, are doing to keep them safe.
them know that an important part of what it means to be Jewish is that
when we hear about tragedy, we want to respond. That is why Emanu-El is
participating in city-wide vigils (both to express our emotions and to
demonstrate our solidarity) and why our Philanthropic Committee and
Student Council are already talking about what we can do to help the
people of the Tree of Life Community.
them that there are always many more people trying to be good than to do
harm, of all religions, backgrounds, and nationalities. Unfortunately, it
is so much easier to be destructive than to build, and bad news always gets
the headlines – but remember, although there are some dangerous people in
the world, nearly everyone you meet is a kind, generous, loving person