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Jewish Resources for Coping with Acts of Terror

In the wake of senseless and devastating gun violence, we mourn, we come together, we offer words of condolence – and we ask how we can prevent these tragedies from happening again.

As Reform Jews, our task remains: to challenge America's conscience and to heed the biblical injunction that we must not stand idly by the blood of our neighbor. Here, we offer words, prayers, and concrete ways to take action to prevent gun violence.

Resources for Parents and Educators

Here are a number of resources to guide parents and educators in speaking to their children about tragedy, especially those based in man-made violence. The following may help both children and parents to process these unthinkable occurrences:

  • "After Terror: 5 Jewish Ways to Help Kids Deal": Jewish tradition provides wisdom on how to handle these moments – both as parents and as individuals. Michelle Shapiro Abraham, the Union for Reform Judaism’s director of learning and innovation for youth, shares insight.
  • “Helping Children to Process Acts of Terrorism”: After acts of violence, children may have both practical and theological questions, such as: How can we be protected from terrorism? Where is God? Why would God allow such things to happen? Rabbi Edythe Mencher, also a clinical social worker, wrote this in-depth guide for talking to children of varying ages about acts of terrorism and violence.
  • "How We Can Help Our Littlest Learners in the Wake of Tragedy": Tammy Kaiser, a Parkland-area neuroscientist, preschool director, mother, and shooting survivor, shares tips for restoring children’s sense of safety - and talks about her own experience comforting her son after the shooting.
  • "Responding to Spiritual Questions and Emotional Needs after Tragedies": What do we tell our kids when tragedies like these make them doubt God's presence? This new piece from Rabbi Mencher addresses such questions as they impact both children and adults. 
  • “Parenting Thoughts: Helping Children Cope with Tragedy”: Margie Bogdanow, a parent and Jewish educator in the Boston area, offers four tips for parents to address tragedies with their children – and to take time to process it themselves, too.
  • “Talking to Children about Death”: Rabbi Mencher also penned this Jewish perspective on 10 common questions parents ask when helping children to better deal with death, grief, and mourning.
  • JECC’s Responding to Crisis: This site, a project of the Jewish Education Center of Cleveland, is dedicated to helping Jewish educators work through times of crisis. The site includes: resources to help children respond to tragedy, created with the guidance of various professionals; several sections offering avenues for response (through the Jewish tradition, through the spoken word, through the arts, etc.); a collection of Jewish texts that may be appropriate in various crises; and a collection of resources that complement the curriculum guide.

Resources for Prayer

As we mourn the lives lost and those lives changed forever by terror, we pray for the victims and for the future of our country. Here are a few prayers (including transliteration) and poems to help us find the right words to speak to God about our grief.

Resources for Action

Please join us in taking action to prevent gun violence.

  • Take part in the Reform community’s efforts: Visit rac.org/gvp for resources from the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, including action alerts, news updates, and the latest information about gun violence prevention through a Reform Jewish perspective.
  • Join the teen movement to prevent gun violence: NFTY: The Reform Jewish Youth Movement offers resources created by teens, for teens, on the topic of gun violence prevention. Visit nfty.org/gvp for individual action items for teens and adults, as well as ways your synagogue youth group can get involved in this vital work. Here, you can also sign up to stay informed of breaking news about NFTY's latest efforts to prevent gun violence in the wake of the Parkland shooting. 
  • Follow the work of our partners: To find additional ways to get involved and to learn more about gun violence prevention efforts nationwide, visit Everytown for Gun SafetyThe Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and Metro-IAF's Do Not Stand Idly By Campaign.

For materials specific to individual acts of terror, please visit our blog and keep an eye on our Facebook page and Twitter account for additional, customized resources as they become available.

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