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Responding to the Pittsburgh Tragedy

Responding to the Pittsburgh Tragedy

Dear Berman Families,

The horrific news of the tragic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh this morning, reaching us as we emerge from Shabbat, a time of rest and peace for all of us, leaves us shocked and heartbroken. As we mourn the lives lost, we also contemplate our own complex mix of emotions. We know that this news can be very unsettling and we imagine many of us, including our children, may have questions and concerns that arise from this event. Our senior leadership team has planned for ways to create a space for t’filah and support for our students and community in the coming days.

1. On Monday morning, the Upper School will have a communal minyan in the Upper School Beit Midrash at 8:15 am. Middle School will similarly hold one communal minyan in the Middle School Beit Midrash. 4th and 5th grade students will daven together in the Band Room. Each of these three groups will say tehillim after davening, followed by an age-appropriate discussion facilitated by their principal. We recognize that this may be difficult for some children, so if you believe your child is not emotionally prepared to participate in this conversation, please email your principal to opt out for your student. All other Lower School students will daven as usual in their classrooms with no tehillim or conversation. Parents are welcome to join any of these minyanim to daven with their children. 

2. We anticipate that our staff and students may have emotional reactions to this event. Our guidance counselors will be available throughout the week to meet with staff and students. Students will not be penalized for missing a class for going to meet with a guidance counselor.

3. Although we have no reason to believe that there is an increased risk to the school, we will be on heightened alert and will have a police officer stationed at the school for the entire day on Monday as a precautionary measure. Our security committee will be meeting on Monday night to review our protocols and decide on any further measures and directions. We continue to have a collaborative relationship with local police officials, and we have been in close contact with them. They remain responsive to our requests and needs. Please be advised that you may see police cars at school in the near term, as they are increasing their patrols.

Even as we create the spaces and times for our communal reflection and response, we understand that there will be difficult questions that may arise in your homes. We are providing links below that will offer guidelines for your individual families: 
From the American Psychological Association:

From the National Child Traumatic Stress Network: https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources//talking_to_children_about_the_shooting.pdf

As more details about this tragic shooting become public, we will continue to monitor the situation and update you as needed.

We join you in praying for a time without these senseless crimes, for a time of peace and security, for a time where we all come together for a better world. May we see an end to hate and violence toward any group and to these heartbreaking tragedies.

May Hashem comfort the families, and all of klal yisrael, amongst the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

With hope,

Rabbi Dr. Yossi Kastan
Head of School