This has been a summer that will be remembered for tragic, senseless shootings in random places across the country. While one can make the argument that no one in their right mind would engage in such horrific acts, the bulk of these incidents are the result of people’s hatred towards the “other”. This Sunday evening, Jewish communities around the globe will be marking the holiday of Tish’a B’Av, the anniversary of the destruction of both of the Holy Temples in Jerusalem, destructions that are attributed to the senseless hatred between groups of Jews. In the case of the second Temple, the hatred was so deep that it led to groups of Jews conspiring against each other by involving the Roman authorities, eventually leading the Romans to banish all Jews from Jerusalem for generations.
One of the cornerstones of Yavneh’s social emotional learning curriculum is Responsive Classroom. The official guide to the approach is a book titled Teaching Children to Care. We teach children to care through the lens of three basic rules: take care of yourself, take care of others, take care of the environment. It is through taking care of others that one learns to care about the “other”. The end result we strive for is a peaceful, caring environment that is conducive to learning, as well as the creation of caring humans that will have the capacity to respect and appreciate others, even those who look, think and behave differently. By teaching these lessons within the biblical concept of creation in the divine image “B’tselem Elohim”, we reinforce that no matter our differences, everyone shares the same basic humanity. While we are hopeful that our legislators and politicians soon define an effective approach to ending gun violence, it is our duty to continue to instill in our children the capacity to build relationships with those who are different, as we strive to build a safer, less hateful, and more peaceful world.
And on the theme of building relationships, one of the many gifts of Yavneh is our upcoming Family Conferences. Family conferences are the ideal place for your family to begin building a relationship with your children’s teachers. Having dialog, sharing expectations, and creating familiarity are key to a successful start to the year. Students are typically more comfortable and less anxious on the first days of school, the parent teacher partnership enables more effective communication from the start, and a smoother transition is experienced by everyone. Please see the links in this issue of Hashavua and sign up for a conference in the next few days (registration closes on Tuesday). If you will be out of town during conference days, I recommend reaching out directly to your children’s teachers to try and set up an alternate opportunity. It really makes a difference.
May our world know no further tragedy. Wishing you a meaningful Tish’a B’Av and a Shabbat Shalom -Zvi
The document below offers links to websites that offer guidance about when and how to talk to children in the aftermath of shootings and other tragedies: