This weekend, when I turned on my phone after Shabbat in Jerusalem, I confronted the unfolding news of a shooting that was occurring in Pittsburgh. As the news started to report more and more casualties, I was in disbelief that a synagogue that had opened its doors for a day of celebration at a baby naming would later have the eyes of the world upon it, grieving together for those who were brutally murdered.
Like so many, my heart is sore. My head is heavy. I have stood in disbelief as the raw emotions about anti-Semitism swirl inside me. I am angry. I am sad. I am heartbroken. I am resilient and I have unwavering hope for a better tomorrow.
Today, as I walk through Tel Aviv, I reflect on the stories of those we lost and my mixture of emotions holds a sense of pride amongst those who stand around me. Israel has a kaleidoscope of Jews from all nations, backgrounds and history and what unites us all is our Jewish identity, whether it's religious, secular, unaffiliated, the list goes on. Jews throughout the course of our history have endured persecution and trauma, and we continue to thrive and strive for a better day. As educators in the field of Jewish teen philanthropy, it is our responsibility to offer our teens an opportunity today and over the coming weeks to express their emotions, their anger and sadness, as well as their pride and hope for making our world a better place.
Philanthropy teaches us many lessons. In our ability to use tzedakah as a learning construct, we have the capacity to talk to our teens about how they feel about what has occurred, and how they can make an impact. Through philanthropy, we have the opportunity to talk about the need for immediate response to a crisis and how we can act responsibly. Our team at JTFN has compiled a resource covering our obligations in a crisis, and the different ways we can address a tragedy in our teen foundations. Many of our partner organizations have released tragedy and crisis intervention and prevention resources that we find very helpful, and we have included them as well.
In this time of tragedy, you do not stand alone. Our hearts are combined for Pittsburgh.
Wayne K. Green
Director, Jewish Teen Funders Network