In the Light

October 29, 2018

From time to time, we invite guests to write for CNE’s weekly newsletter. This week we hear from Peter Gaines. Peter is Director of the Upper School at Tandem Friends School, and a member of Congregation Beth Israel.

As a Friends School, we started our Morning Meeting on Monday with a moment of silence for the lives lost in Pittsburgh. In the manner of Friends (Quakers), we took that time to hold families affected “in the light.”

I then shared with my students some of my thoughts about this act of anti-semitism and hate. I spoke also about the gun violence in Kentucky last week when a white man tried to enter a Black Church and then went to a nearby Kroger where he shot and killed two black people.

I have grown tired of having to look at my students – and my own children – and say, “yet another terrible, hateful thing has happened.” I feel embarrassed not to have better answers for why or for what to do in response.

And yet, from my Jewish faith, I know how important the concept of Tikkun Olam is. It is a call to find ways to make the world better and to participate in the work of repairing the world. This teaching, consistent with the Quaker value of stewardship – and with so many faith practices – brought me solace this week. I shared with my students the accompanying Jewish principal that while you are not obligated to complete the work of repairing the world, you are not allowed to turn away from it.

So I am taking care to be present. To vote. I am asking my students and my children to bring their whole selves forward into community. Bringing compassion and care into our daily interactions is yet another antidote to the ugliness we are seeing too often.

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