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Dr. Richard Cuenca’s Friday Letter: Purim 2017

Dear Posnack School Community:

For many of us the world feels a little different now. Reports of hate crimes, desecration of Jewish cemeteries, proliferation of anti-Semitic graffiti, and bomb threats to Jewish Schools and Community Centers has shaken our world. It is uncomfortable and unsettling.

As parents, we want to shield our children from these images and messages even though it is all around them. Our first inclination is to insulate our children from the realities of the outside world. We want to protect them from the visceral expressions of hate. They are so young. Over time that initial inclination gives way to the realization that as parents we can only shield our children for so long. Our children are asked to grow beyond their years and as parents we have no choice but to try and find the right words to at least explain what is happening.

Last week following the first threat, I shared with you my experience of being surrounded by sounds from my two radios, sirens blaring from law enforcement vehicles, and the buzz of two helicopters hovering above. Through it all, there was a beautiful moment where time seemed to stand still and the essence of our Posnack School family was revealed. From feelings of anxiousness, uncertainty, and nervousness emerged a sense of comfort, resolve, and perseverance. Our school is strong and our children even at a young age demonstrated remarkable courage, caring for one another, and resolve.

Once again this week, our Posnack School community was called upon to be strong and care for each other. Students, faculty, staff, and parents all came together and thwarted any attempt to break our resolve and commitment to each other and our mission.

Thank you to all our parents for your unwavering support and for believing in a Jewish day school for your children even when there are reasons to turn away. I promise you that our school will never allow the forces of evil to shatter our resolve. Together, our Posnack School family represents a formidable bond linking generation to generation and nothing will inhibit its strength.

As Purim approaches and we celebrate together the joy of the holiday, I want to share a remarkable story of hope and optimism.

Towards the end of last week, my office started receiving letters- lots of them! The letters were handwritten and more and more arrived each day. The letters came from Berkeley, California; Portland, Oregon; Vermont, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Charlotte, Ohio, and others. The letters were sent by people I did not know. They were from strangers who probably had never even heard of the Posnack School before two weeks ago.

This is a sample of what some of the letters said:

To the good people at the Posnack School:
I send love and solidarity from Berkeley, CA. I want you to know that I am glad that you are there and I was so saddened to hear that you were threatened. As a member of a church in San Francisco, I know that our faith communities are beacons of light in these dark times, so please keep shinning bright!
– With love, Lizzie

Dear Posnack Jewish School:
I am so sorry to hear that your school was one of those targeted by a bomb threat. Everyone deserves peace and security, and I am so sorry you have to deal with this scary, hateful threat. I wish peace to your school community.
– From Samantha, a non-Jew in Portland, Oregon

Dear Posnack School Students, Teachers, and Staff:
Together, we can triumph over hate. Stay strong and never let them win.
– With love from Vermont, Sarah

Dear Posnack School:
I write to you today to extend my hand in solidarity and support. Having been raised in a Catholic household I know little of the Jewish faith. But I do know that I have known Jewish people in my life who are just as kind and loving as those of any other faith. I honestly don’t understand the anti-Semitism in our world as I have never heard of Jewish people doing anything bad my entire life. You deserve freedom and justice.
I hope and pray for such peace for your school and all other Americans. I don’t know that there is a lot that I can do, however, I will help in any way I can.
Michael – from Chicago

Our Posnack School family calls Davie, Florida home, but these letters remind us that even during the difficult times our school’s unwavering resolve and commitment to a mission imbued with Jewish values reaches far beyond the boundaries of our campus.

Have a joyous and meaningful Purim!

Shabbat Shalom & Chag Purim Sameach,

Dr. Richard Cuenca
Head of School

PS – See you at our school’s Purim Carnival.