I write to share with you my enormous pride at the strength of our Heschel School community.  

This morning, we took time as a community to confront the tragedy of school shootings.   At 10:00AM many members of our community "walked out" of school to join the national response to last month's school shooting in Parkland, Florida.  On 61st Street, alongside students from other neighborhood schools, a group of our High School students led members of our school community in song and the recitation of poetry.  Our block was filled with energy and optimism. Seventeen minutes later, our entire Middle School and High School (along with many other members of our faculty and staff) -- those who walked out and those who spent the seventeen minutes together inside our school -- came together in the Roanna Shorofsky Theater to remember the victims of school shootings in the twenty years since the tragic attack at Columbine High School.  We prayed together, sang together, and listened to Middle School and High School students read the names of those who have been killed.

I closed the memorial service with Yehuda Amichai's poem, "Let the Memorial Hill Remember:"

Let the memorial hill remember instead of me,

that's what it's here for. Let the park in-memory-of remember,

let the street that's-named-for remember,

let the well-known building remember,

let the synagogue that's named after God remember

let the rolling Torah scroll remember, let the prayer

for the memory of the dead remember. Let the flags remember

those multicolored shrouds of history: the bodies they wrapped

have long since turned to dust. Let the dust remember.

Let the dung remember at the gate. Let the afterbirth remember.

Let the beasts of the field and birds of the heavens eat and remember.

Let all of them remember so that I can rest.


As I shared with all who gathered in the theater, today was a day for us to remember.  It was not a day for us to rest. Today was not a day for us to leave the job of remembering to the parks or the streets or the parents whose children have died in school shootings or the school communities most directly impacted by violence.  Today was a day for us to remember.  And so we did.

I am so grateful for all of the teachers, staff, members of the administration, members of our security and facilities teams, and student leaders who worked on today's programming.  And I am so grateful for all of the members of our pluralistic community who supported one another in expressing themselves in different ways this morning and also in coming together.  I left our program filled not only with sadness, but with a deep sense of inspiration and hope.

If your child was in school today, please speak with him or her about the experience.  And, as always, please let me know if we can support your child in additional ways as he or she continues to process this troubling part of the world around us.  

I hope that you will share my pride in the strength of this unique school community, as well as my gratitude for our community's safety and security.  And I know you join my prayers for a world in which all children will be safe to learn and grow in their schools.

Thank you, as always, for your support and partnership.



Early Childhood Center • Henry Lindenbaum Lower School • Alan B. Slifka Middle School
30 West End Avenue, NYC 10023 • 212 784-1234
High School • 20 West End Avenue, NYC 10023 • 212 246-7717

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