A Message From President O’Connor to Our PAU Community

Thursday, November 1, 2018

This past week, we witnessed the tragedy that results from hate and intolerance. A violent act of anti-Semitic hatred in Pittsburgh at the Tree of Life Synagogue resulted in the death of 11 innocent people and the wounding of several others. This is being reported as the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history. We are keeping the victims, their families, first responders, our PAU family, and the larger Jewish communities in our thoughts.

An additional attack in Kentucky resulting in the death of two African Americans is also being investigated as a hate crime, and our thoughts also go out to the victims, families, and communities of color that are subject to such acts of violence and racism. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at Cal State San Bernadino reported earlier this year an increase in hate crimes in the nation’s 10 largest cities of 12 percent, reaching the highest level in more than ten years.

Hate crimes are particularly devastating in that they attack a core identity of our humanness and effectively communicate to an entire group of people that they are neither safe nor secure in the communities in which they live. Those who are members of groups targeted by hate crimes can suffer psychological distress, lower self-esteem, and feelings of vulnerability, even if they are not directly involved in an attack. Psychological distress may take the form of post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, and anger.

The mental health professions are especially important at times such as these in helping us to address the short and long term consequences of these heinous acts. The work we do at PAU is needed more than ever at this challenging time.

Below are several links that can be used as both personal and professional resources. We urge those of you who are experiencing trauma to practice self-care and connect with family and friends, talk about your feelings, and to reach out for help if you feel the need. For those of you who are in clinical practice with people who have been affected, you may find the links to be helpful.

Valuing difference and recognizing the importance of diversity are at the core of practicing social justice. We must remember to work to be understanding and patient with each other, to behave in ways that foster peace, and to value and appreciate our differences. It is through the strength of diversity that we have the best opportunity to create a world in which we can all live safely and freely.

Please take care of yourself and each other.

APA Statement

Anti-defamation league

Reform Judaism offers resources for educators

Statement from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) about the Pittsburgh Tragedy

Opinion article from AP News by David Michael Slater: First Person: A Mass Murder in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood


Shir Hadash

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