Struggling With the Tragedy in Newton, Ct.

December 27, 2012

By Rabbi Eli Freedman

The Torah mentions the terms ‘widow’ and ‘orphan’ over fifty times.  It seems strange to me that both in Hebrew and English the terms for someone who has lost a spouse or parent are so prevalent, yet there is no word for someone who has lost a child.  Perhaps this is because there are no words to describe a loss so tragic.  
In this week’s Torah portion, we see a glimpse of the pain that all of the families in Newtown, CT are surely facing when we look at our patriarch, Jacob.  Jacob believes his favorite son Joseph is already dead and at the prospect of hearing that he may also lose his son Benjamin says, “If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery.” (Genesis 44:29)
There is truly something about the death of children that brings us to despair more than anything else.  How, then, do we continue on, continue to have faith even in the face of such evil in this world?
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The Tragedy in Newton, Ct: In Memoriam

December 27, 2012

Introduction to the Kaddish (December 21, 2012)
Rabbi Alan D. Fuchs
As we are about to read the names of those of our loved ones and members of this congregational family, we also will remember those who were murdered in Newtown, Ct.  this is very personal for carol and me and our son Dan who is with us this evening.  our son and Dan’s brother Douglas, his wife Diane and their two children, Rachael, age 15, and Zachary, age 13, live in Newtown.  Rachael and Zachary attended sandy hook elementary school.  Diane taught at least one of those ill-fated first graders when that child was in the pre-school where she works.  the sibling of a present student escaped the carnage by running out of the classroom and out of the school.
Douglas has worked in law enforcement since his graduation from Brandeis in 1988.  He is now the chief of police of Redding, CT, a town adjacent to Newtown.  He heard the Newtown dispatcher call for help while he was in his police car and raced to the school.  he arrived moments later.  The Newtown police had just burst into the school.  Tragically, the assault was over.  Douglas then was asked to be in charge of organizing the reuniting of the children with their parents, an event which took place in a nearby firehouse.  He separated the children by grade in one room and then connected them with their frantic parents in another.  he had to separate out the parents of twenty children who never returned.
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Tragedy in Newtown, CT

December 21, 2012

We have all been deeply touched by the tragic events of last Friday’s mass killings in Newtown, CT.  While it is so difficult to know how to respond, our hearts go out to all of the families and friends of the victims of this senseless crime, as we hold each of them in our thoughts and prayers.  We also express our admiration and respect to all of the first responders and the many people who have been such a help and comfort to all those touched by this event.  We say a prayer for our nation, as we feel that Newtown has changed us forever.
A tragedy such as this can move us to seek the sheltering peace and comfort of our own Rodeph Shalom Community.  Please join us for Shabbat services on any Friday night at 6:00 pm, as we come together to console each other and to offer our prayers to ask God to grant peace to our country.
There are many people in our congregation who want to know what we can do as a community.  Please contact any of our clergy or Catherine Fischer (215) 627-6747, x 46.  cfischer@rodephshalom.org  if you are interested in connecting with others in our congregation who would like to respond through action in any of the following areas:
•    Gun violence
•    Improvements in mental health services
•    Safety in schools
•    Discuss our national culture – violence in TV shows, movies, video games and the impact it has on people.
•    Role of values, ethics and prayer in our lives.
•    Other ideas.
The purpose of our congregation is to help everyone connect with each other, with Judaism and with God.  At times such as these, we need to come together more than ever in kindness, compassion, caring, goodness, warmth and support.  Let this benevolence spread out to everyone whose lives we touch, so that no one feels alone, isolated or lost.  Let every person know that we can all make such a difference in this world if we will act as God’s partner in making this world a better place.
Let Newtown be the place and the time which caused us to finally heed God’s call to heal the pain in our world for good.
L’shalom,
Dena R Herrin, President, Rabbis William I. Kuhn,  Jill L. Maderer, Eli C. Freedman and Cantor Erin R. Frankel