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Special message from Cantor Jamie

11/14/2016 12:08:01 PM


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Dear Temple Beth Am Family,

On Tuesday, as we all know, Americans turned out at voting booths across the country to elect a new president of the United States.  In the days following the election, I have heard reports from children in schools throughout our community.  According to our children, there have been incidents of unkindness, bullying and even physical aggression in their schools.  I wanted to share with you how we have addressed this issue here in the Religious School.

With all of our students, I led discussions about the climate in their schools.  I started by telling the children that we weren't going to be discussing the election at all.  I told them how proud I was of their parents for voting, and how lucky we are to be able to vote.  I know that many of your families have had meaningful and important discussions about the outcome of the election.  

We focused instead on the unkindness that we have seen in schools.  I told them that I had heard of unkind words and actions from students whose families supported both candidates.   I pretended to be the angry student accusing another student of voting for Harambe the Gorilla.  I called the other student dumb and said that they were wrong, making fun of how they looked ("I hate blue streaks in hair" "I hate beards").  Together, the students brainstormed and role played things that they could do to intervene in a situation of unkindness.

Some things that the kids came up with :
  • Tell the aggressor to stop
  • Tell an adult.
  • Go sit next to the child being targeted and be friendly
  • Ask the angry student how they would feel if somebody were unkind to them
  • Take the child being targeted and walk away with him/her
  • Use a polite tone of voice when intervening.  Don't escalate any fights

We ended by focusing on our Jewish values.  We remembered that Judaism teaches us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to treat others as we would like to be treated.  We recalled that we are all created in God's image.

This is certainly a challenging time for us and our children.  This election was contentious and often unkind.  It is obvious to me that you have been teaching the values of kindness, compassion and friendship to your children.  I commend you all for living your Jewish values every day and encourage you to reach out to me if you have questions about our work today or your children's ongoing questions in the days to come.

Cantor Jamie




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