Like all Jewish organizations around the country this week, ICJA students and staff spent the days grappling with how to respond to the Shabbat massacre in Pittsburgh. Our seniors on Thursday joined community leaders and members of all faiths at the JUF Interfaith Solidarity Gathering downtown, where they read from the dais the names and a few details about each victim.
Students heard from religious and civic leaders from across Chicago, including: Dr. Steven Nasatir, JUF President; the Archdiocese of Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, local rabbis, a sheik, and a senior pastor. Dr. Nasatir addressed the students in the room, saying that we must reassert the values we hold dear as Jews, as Americans and as a people of faith. “We owe that the students in the room. We want to bequeath to you an America worthy of its highest ideals.”
We are grateful to the JUF for inviting our students to participate in and help lead this important ceremony. No doubt it will leave a lasting impression on our students.
We began school on Monday with heavy hearts and gathered to hear powerful words from Rabbi Matanky in response to the massacre in Pittsburgh. He encouraged students and staff to recite tehillim, write letters to the families sitting shiva and to take greater care to treat everyone with dignity and respect: “Stand up and make a difference because the world you will inherit from us Is the world you’re going to create. Whether it is people in power or your friend right next to you, how you speak and how you relate to others and how you create community will be the only way we can repair this terrible tragedy.”
While the Jewish people mourn together for a tragedy that feels so personal, non Jews around the country are reaching out as well. On Friday, we were joined by Fox News for a pep rally, and the producer, Nicholas Mitrovich contacted Rabbi Matanky following the massacre. Rabbi Matanky read his message out loud:
I know this week starts with heavy hearts, but I’m getting a great response on Ida Crown and the rally!!! News is a cruel vehicle at times and it showed with the terrible synagogue shootings. My heartfelt condolences to members of your faith at this time…Memory eternal. So coverage like the pep rally is extra special…just kids having a smile–no race, ethnic, religion or economic views. Just kids being just that and quite frankly having fun without a worry! That part of this job is the best and so rewarding! Take care and the best to your school, family and faithful!
“What Nick really does is talk about the way life is. Friday we were in here and we had a blast. And then today we are here to remember,” said Rabbi Matanky.