October 28, 2018
Dear Bialik Parents,
Together with the rest of the world, we are appalled by the tragic events that took place at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh yesterday. Many of us have connections to that community and we are all shocked when Jews anywhere are targeted because of who we are. We send our deepest condolences to the Pittsburgh Jewish community and to the grieving families, and our heartfelt wishes for speedy healing for the injured.
At a time like this, our thoughts also turn to ensuring the safety and security of our own community, which is of paramount importance to all of us. The UJA Federation’s Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) put out a statement yesterday, including this key paragraph:
Canadian law enforcement reacted quickly and decisively to this situation, and for that we are grateful. While there is no information whatsoever to suggest an elevated threat to Jewish communities in Canada, we have confirmed a bolstered police presence and increased patrolling in the vicinity of Jewish facilities by Toronto Police Service, York Regional Police, and in other cities across the country. We continue to remind our community leaders that it is important to remain vigilant and to ensure that existing security protocols are being followed.
Bialik has reached out to our security providers to review protocols, and will emphasize the importance of vigilance with our security guards, faculty and staff. We will continue our school’s practice of regular security drills and ongoing review of our security procedures. In addition, we are in close contact with CIJA and will receive immediate notification and guidance should circumstances demand any change in our security readiness.
It is always challenging to know how to speak to our children when tragedies occur. Our younger students are likely to be unaware of yesterday’s events, but older children may be troubled by what they have heard or seen in the media. Teachers in kindergarten and the elementary grades will not specifically initiate discussions regarding the events in Pittsburgh, but will process any student’s comments or questions in age-appropriate ways. In the Senior Division, we will speak with the students to help process the events, placing an emphasis on the themes of solidarity, resilience and empathy. In addition, our teachers, school counsellors and vice principals will be available for any students needing support.
As always, we thank you for your support and for the trust you put in us.
Benjamin Cohen, Head of School
Jake Gallinger, Viewmount Principal
Beverley Young, Himel Principal