On December 14, 2012 a troubled youth, Adam Lanza, fatally shot twenty children and six adult staff members in a mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the village of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut. Following that horrific event many of us felt lost and without hope. Our core beliefs were shaken; we had seen the destruction of innocence and had come to learn that evil possesses no boundary. Shortly after the horrendous tragedy in Newtown a congregant, Louise Stoll, approached me and asked what we as a congregation could do on behalf of the Newtown community.
Noah Pozner was the youngest victim of the massacre. Noah was a Jew and his family a member of Adath Israel, the Conservative congregation in Newtown. I shared with Louise that it might be nice to reach out to his congregation in some meaningful way. Perhaps we, as a community, could sponsor an Oneg or Kiddish following a Sabbath service thus demonstrating that even at this dark moment they were not alone.
Congregation Adath Israel was very moved by our offer and shared, to my surprise and disappointment that no other congregation had made an effort to reach out. Here is the Congregation’s response to our offer:
“We are in the midst of arranging a program for Sunday May 5th following which we would like to provide a reception. I was thinking that perhaps Temple Sinai might like to sponsor that reception rather than an ordinary Oneg. The program on the 5th is related to the events in town following the December 14 shooting and might even be of interest to you and/or some of your congregants. The invited speakers are Rabbi Seth and Sherri Mandell. I don’t know if you are familiar with them or their story. They lived in CT for a time, and moved to Israel in 1996. They run the Koby Mandell Foundation, named for their 13 year old son who was murdered in Israel in 2001. Their foundation provides therapeutic programs for families who are victims of terror, and summer camp experiences for bereaved and traumatized children. They will be speaking on the general topics of a Jewish response to surviving terror, trauma and tragedy, recovery, resiliency, and how to care for the families of our town. I am currently finalizing the program. But I do think this would be a wonderful way for your congregation to show its support of our congregation and of our greater Newtown community. And we’d of course be thrilled if any of you were able to attend this program.”
After speaking with leadership I heartily accepted their request. The cost of the reception is $300. If you would like to contribute we would be most grateful. Additionally members of Temple are warmly encouraged to attend.
Reaching out to those in need feels very good.