Focus on Strength and Solidarity

November 2, 2018

The events on Saturday in Pittsburgh leave our collective Jewish lives shaken.  Here at Paul Penna Downtown Jewish Day School, we have worked with the MNjcc, CIJA, our faculty and our students to ensure that security protocols remain strong and that our older children have had a safe space in their classroom to process and respond to the events.  

We are reviewing and reinforcing our entry protocols.  Parents, grandparents and caregivers are being asked to sign in at the front desk or use their MNjcc key card to gain access to the school floors. Guests and visitors are being met downstairs or invited up only with front office consent.

We feel greatly supported by the Toronto Police Service and the security professionals at CIJA.  There is an increased police presence around all Jewish buildings, including the MNjcc. As well, the TPS responded to our request for extra patrol around the field and the Sussex Mews at lunch recess time.  We have had a check in from our local officer, Officer Gribbon, who continues to be a great support to us as we process the events of the weekend.

As planned many weeks ago, officer Tony Santeremo  from TPS will be addressing our staff on lockdowns and live shooter situations at our faculty PD Day on November 6th. This is a workshop he delivered to all MNjcc staff in August; it was very well received.  Officer Gribbon will continue to work with us as we implement any suggestions.

All of the classes in Grades 3-6 spoke about the tragedy in Pittsburgh as part of their learning on Monday.  In addition, they all added a prayer for healing to their prayer routine. The events were not discussed in younger grades, although they added a Mi Shaberach to their prayers. Morah Rena compiled a list of resources, both educational and prayer related, to support classroom teachers as they find ways to process these events with students.

I had the opportunity to debrief with the Grade 6 class and suggested that this is a time to put more love and kindness into the world, rather than fear and hate. They will work with their core teacher to think of a social action project that they as a class can take on.  I, along with Morah Rena and Morah Kate, will support them with their implementation of this project.

We will continue to follow up with the MNjcc, CIJA and TPS and follow the directions of the building in which we are housed.

Together as a community, we express our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of the Pittsburgh shooting.  There are a few actions we can take as families to show our solidarity and support and work towards making our world a better place. All Tzedakah money collected this Friday will be donated to the Toronto Stands with Pittsburgh Fund organized by UJA Federation of Greater Toronto. This weekend Toronto will join communities around North America in a #SolidarityShabbat.  I encourage you and your family to go to synagogue this Shabbat and stand strong alongside the global Jewish community. Finally, on Monday November 5 we will be hosting a Holocaust Education Program titled How to Talk to Your Child About the Holocaust. Please REGISTER and join us, this is a very timely topic as we process how to best speak to our children of different ages about horrific events historically, but also in our modern time.

We hope and pray for more peaceful times ahead.