School and community address Pittsburgh hate crime


photo by Daphne Kaplan

High school students gather to sign their names on a “CESJDS Cares” poster, to be given to the Pittsburgh and Tree of Life synagogue community.

Daphne Kaplan, Assistant Features Editor

“When good things happen we come together to celebrate, and when bad things happen we come together to support one another,” Associate Head of School and High School Principal Marc Lindner said on Monday during a school-wide assembly, two days after the horrific hate crime at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

An email sent out on Sunday night, written by Lindner and Middle School Principal Dr. Eliana Lipsky also informed the CESJDS community on how the school was addressing the tragic events that occurred on Shabbat morning.

Like Monday’s speech, the email reiterated that no reaction to such tragedy is wrong, as many reconcile tragic events with anger, fear or apathy, and said that JDS will be providing a multitude of resources if wanted. These include the opportunity for individuals to voice their concerns through open forums, the availability of seeking comfort with guidance counselors or the ability to discuss the school’s safety approach, namely how it is a continuous priority.

Safety and security within the premise of the school continue to be a “primary priority,” according to Lindner. Director of Operations and Security Izzy Moskowitz ensures that both JDS campuses practice shelter-in-place, fire, evacuation and lockdown procedures, as “the more we practice, the better we’ll react during a real threat.”

Sophomore Ella Messler believes that JDS is doing a good job protecting the students and faculty, but feels that the problem could be mitigated with the help of gun reform.

Although Messler was initially indifferent to the tragedy simply due to the current political climate, after reconciling the exact implications of the premeditated attack to a community just like hers, Messler knew she had to speak up, and has done so through writing and dialogue with peers at JDS and within the local community.

“I think JDS is doing a good job of having safe places where people can talk [about the tragedy]. There will probably be more things later such as posting online or through writing,” Messler said. “As of now, JDS is doing a really good job of setting up a safe place where people can talk.”

In efforts to show support for those in Pittsburgh following the massacre, Dean of Students Roslyn Landy assembled a group of high school students to find a way to address the situation within the doors of the school, and heal the community.

On Thursday during lunch and Community Time, students were encouraged to write letters to congressmen, to the Tree of Life Synagogue, to HIAS, to the first responders working at the scene, sign a banner, in addition to writing letters of gratification to JDS’ security system.

Through continuous efforts of trying to foster a safe place for public forum and support within the community, Lindner hopes that despite the calamity, students and faculty express their Judaism, and with pride.

“In addition to being sad and angry, I feel energized, as there is increasing reason to be proud of being Jewish, and to promote good in the world, which is part of what our school is about, and I want to be a part of that too,” Lindner said.