Hearts are Hurting Post Tragedy at Highland Park July 4 Parade

שִׁ֗יר לַֽמַּ֫עֲל֥וֹת
אֶשָּׂ֣א עֵ֭ינַי אֶל־הֶהָרִ֑ים מֵ֝אַ֗יִן יָבֹ֥א עֶזְרִֽי
עֶ֭זְרִי מֵעִ֣ם יְהֹוָ֑ה עֹ֝שֵׂ֗ה שָׁמַ֥יִם וָאָֽרֶץ

A song for ascents.
I turn my eyes to the mountains;
from where will my help come?

My help comes from God,
maker of heaven and earth.

Like you, we were shocked and horrified by the senseless violence in our community yesterday. During times of great strife, our help comes not only from God, but from our loved ones and our community as well. We are here for you, to help heal and pray for a world free of terror. May there come a time where we are free to celebrate our sacred and secular holidays without fear of injury.

We continue to compile more resources, so please continue to check back as needed during this recovery period. Additionally, if you have a resource you would like to share, please send to Aviva and we will share it with the community.

The federal government’s Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs recently compiled this list of resources for children, families, educators and community members dealing with grief after mass shootings.

JCFS Resources and Opportunities

Evening of Support for the Highland Park Community
Wednesday, July 6 at 7:00 pm | Virtual on Zoom
Led by trauma informed experts, JCFS Chicago will be offering an evening of support. All are welcome to attend this virtual event focused on healing through words of comfort, conversation, and music. Registration is free of charge.

The JCFS Chicago Warm Line phone connection is available to provide assistance for anyone affected by the Highland Park shooting who does not have an urgent need and is looking for someone to talk to about their emotional distress. Call the warm line to connect to an emotional support professional between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm Monday through Thursday, 9:00 am-4:00 pm Fridays at 855.275.5237.

One of the most challenging aspects of the horror of gun violence is discussing it with our children. The URJ has put together a list of resources that will provide comfort, context, and salient information so we can better equip ourselves to have those hard conversations.

Resources for Parents and Educators
Here are several resources to guide parents and educators in speaking to their children about tragedy, especially those based on 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.
  • “11 Questions and Answers to Help You Talk to Children About Death”: Rabbi Mencher also penned this Jewish perspective on 11 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.