|Dear Classrooms Without Borders’ (CWB) Educators and Friends:
We ache for the families and friends of:
Joyce Feinberg, Rich Gotfried, Rose Malinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax, and Irving Youngner.
Eleven people gunned down in a house of worship simply because of their faith.
We ache for the wounded, the people who witnessed this massacre and all of those present (and not) whose lives have been changed in an instant because of this senseless act of hate.
Almost immediately after the shooting our extended CWB family began reaching out to show their support, offer help, and simply send their love. We heard from hundreds of educators, students, scholars, supporters and colleagues from all over the United States, Poland, Spain, Greece, Germany and Israel. Their messages were all similar, echoing our heartache and the feeling that we have all been attacked. Our sense of security and hope for the future has been rattled or dimmed.
When our teachers asked what they can do to help our answer was simple. They should continue to teach students to fight bigotry and hate. They should continue to pave a pathway for peace.
At CWB we know that educators are our hope for a better future. As teachers and educators we have a responsibility to ensure that our students and our peers learn from the tragedies we have endured. We teach that the Holocaust is not only Jewish history it is Human History. We teach that bigotry and discrimination against any minority is bigotry and hate against all minorities. We connect people to cultures and history, so they may not only learn but also become personally invested in respecting and protecting humanity.
Educators: As part of the classroom discussions and lessons that will occur tomorrow, please encourage your students to write to Tree of Life and reach out to the Jewish community to express their condolences and solidarity. This exercise can be part of the educational experience – to teach our students that they have the responsibility not to remain as bystanders, and they have the ability to make a difference.
Through the darkness that has spread over us in the past twenty-four hours some rays of light have emerged. People of all walks of life in Pittsburgh are gathering in solidarity with the victims, their families and the Jewish community. Yesterday, Mayor Peduto voiced our sentiments when he said, “Pittsburgh is a small city where people know each other and each other’s families. When someone is hurt here, everyone is hurt.” Now, the day after the tragedy we realize that many communities, even beyond Pittsburgh, are standing with us in solidarity. We hope they will use the lessons of our tragedy to prevent future hate crimes and senseless loss of life. In the words of Mayor Peduto this morning: “Let this horrific episode be another mark in the march of humanity towards recognizing that we are all one.”
In the memory of the eleven community members we lost yesterday, and the countless victims of hate, we will continue empowering our educators and students to fight bigotry and discrimination. We will continue paving the pathway to peace.
With gratitude for your support and dedication to our shared mission-
Dr. Zipora Gur and the Classrooms Without Borders’ leadership and staff