by Jacki Post Ashkin, LCSW-C
Shabbat shalom. A peaceful Sabbath. It is something we wish one another each Friday; a phrase that passes between us easily and naturally. But there was no peace this Shabbat. Horror and bloodshed invaded a place and a time that is meant to be joyful and sacred. This weekend’s tragedy struck at the heart of our lives and identities as Jews. Lives were lost inside a synagogue, a holy sanctuary, in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood on Saturday and collectively, Jewish communities across our country and around the world are feeling the shock and grief.
Each of us – young and old – is struggling to understand why. Too often of late we have been confronted with the horror of mass shootings in places where we once took our safety for granted – schools, malls, concerts, and places of worship, left wondering how one person could harbor so much hatred as to feel justified in committing mass murder. And as our hearts break for the victims’ families, friends, and community, we can’t help but wonder if our neighborhood is next.
How do we cope with our anxiety and sadness? How do we talk to our children about what has happened? How do we explain antisemitism and hatred that we ourselves cannot fathom?
In the aftermath of the tragedy at Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, Jewish Community Services and the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore are offering support through a number of community gatherings on Tuesday, October 30.
Groups for adults who would like to process their reactions and feelings about the Pittsburgh tragedy:
5:30-6:30 pm, Weinberg Park Heights JCC
5:30-6:30 pm, Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC
Sessions for parents – Guidance on talking with their children about the event, hate, and antisemitism:
8:30-9:30 am, Weinberg Park Heights JCC
7:00-8:00 pm, Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC
If you need disability accommodations in order to participate, please contact 410-466-9200 or firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. In all situations, a good faith effort will be made to provide accommodations.”
In response to previous incidents of mass violence, Jewish Community Services (JCS) staff have offered information about caring for your own needs as well as helping your children.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network offers these additional resources:
Jacki Ashkin, LCSW-C, is Director of Community Connections at Jewish Community Services.
Through a variety of groups, programs and services, JCS Grief Counselors offer support, guidance, comfort, and hope to people of all ages who are bereaved and trying to cope with the death of someone important in their lives. To learn more about JCS Grief Services, visit jcsbalt.org/griefsupport or call 410-466-9200.