Dear Students, Parents, Faculty and Staff and friends of The Weber School:
Like you, I have experienced a variety of feelings during the past week since the murder of George Floyd: sadness, shock and considerable despair for the injustices that confront our society. While exploring ways to find meaning and to respond with a sense of purpose, a close friend and teacher of mine reminded me of the moral challenge issued nearly fifty years ago by Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel:
“Morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”
In order to meaningfully address serious moral issues that confront our community, it is our practice at The Weber School to draw upon Jewish educational traditions that have guided Jewish schools and learning communities for 2000 years: study, active listening, discussion, debate and the expression of authentic feelings. Through this process, we elevate our Jewish social consciousness and realize the essential goal framed by Dr. Heschel – to identify our responsibility as members of a free society to build a more just and peaceful world.
During the past week, I have sought the counsel of pastors and educators who have taken leadership roles in the movement for civil and human rights. I particularly appreciate the advice and perspective offered generously by two friends of The Weber School: Mr. Charles Person, original participant in the Freedom Rides and veteran of the US Marine Corps, and the Reverend William E, Flippin, Jr, noted pastor and social activist. With the help and participation of Reverend Flippin and Mr. Person, we are working to arrange a virtual town hall where they will share their experience, wisdom, and perspectives with The Weber School community. Once we have finalized our plans, I will send an invitation with specific information.
After the tragedies that occurred in Charleston, Parkland and Pittsburgh, students and faculty at The Weber School engaged in learning and discussions that translated into action. Similarly, I hope that our upcoming virtual meeting will provide an opportunity for us to listen, learn, ask questions, open our minds and hearts, share ideas and feelings and, most importantly, inform concrete and productive action. Consistent with the tradition of Jewish moral education, I am confident that Weber students and teachers will yet again embrace Dr. Heschel’s challenge, working together to advance the cause of justice and to help create what the great 20th century Polish scholar and educator, Rabbi Kalonymous Kalman Shapira, called “the conscious community.”
Rabbi Ed Harwitz, Head of School