We approach the one-year anniversary of the tragic shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh with deep sadness about the terrible loss of life and the terrifying resurgence of anti-Semitism in the United States.
In addition to the heartbreak of Pittsburgh, with the murder of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein by a homophobic neo-Nazi in Orange County in January 2018, the Chabad of Poway shooting in San Diego in April 2019, and random attacks on Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn this past summer, we are all aware that violence toward Jews has greatly increased.
As educators, we at Moving Traditions see that Jewish youth in middle and high school are struggling to make sense of the rise of anti-Semitism, where they are encountering it for the first time in classrooms, athletic fields, social settings, and especially on their screens.
This is having an impact on their sense of self as Jews and their sense of safety in the world.
Moving Traditions’ trained adult group leaders are holding conversations with the youth in our programs to help them address their sadness, anxiety, anger, and fear.
To help the youth in your life, we are sharing with you some of our resources so that you can:
- Provide space for your pre-teens and teens to talk about the Tree of Life anniversary or other recent anti-Semitic incidents, if they want to.
Don’t press them to talk more than they choose. Validate the emotions they share. Share yours. They might have trouble putting words to their feelings. To help, teens can use this emotions graphic to point out what they are experiencing.
- Participate in a communal activity with your pre-teen or teen whether it’s a #ShowUpforShabbat program at your synagogue, a Yarzeit (memorial) event held by a Jewish organization, or a multi-faith gathering.
Being with other Jews and people standing for peace can be heartening.
- If you cannot attend a community event, light a candle at home and say the kaddish or other prayer.
This prayer, using feminine God language, was written by me and Lori Lefkowitz after the 9.11 attacks:
בְּרוּכָה אַתְּ יָהּ מְקוֹר הַחַיִּים הַתּוֹמֶכֶת בָּנוּ בְּהַבִיאֵנוּ אוֹר לְחֹשֶׁךְ מַרְפֵּא לְשֶׁבֶר וְשָׁלוֹם לְכֹל יוֹשְׁבֵי תֵּבֵל
Brukhah at yah, m’kor ha-hayyim, ha-tomekhet banu b’haviyenu or l’hoshekh marpei l’shever, v’shalom l’kohl yoshvei tevel
Blessed are you, Source of Life, who helps us to bring Light where there is darkness, healing where there is brokenness, and peace to all of the earth’s inhabitants.
- Remind your children that the adults around them are taking measures to ensure that they are protected from harm, including police, clergy, and leaders of congregations and other communal organizations.
- Check out 10.27 Healing Partnership’s resources for Helping Children and Teens with Traumatic Grief.