Local leaders have issued statements on the tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.
Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino
“As a father of three young children, two currently in elementary school, I am so deeply saddened about the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. The heartfelt prayers of my wife Sheila and I go out to the victims and families of this senseless act of violence. Westchester County stands ready to offer any assistance that could be helpful.”
Westchester County Board of Legislators Chairman Ken Jenkins
“The senseless and utterly horrifying death of twenty-seven people today, including eighteen children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut must—I repeat, must—be the final wake-up call for government officials and elected leaders at every level to work toward making sure another tragic shooting and killing of innocents like this never occurs again. It’s time to enact the strictest national gun laws in the world. We owe it to all of the victims.
“My prayers and heart-heavy condolences go out to the families of all those killed and traumatized by today’s shooting. If we are going to be serious about making the world a better, safer place in which to live, then we must immediately look to eliminating gun violence. The public across our land and future generations are depending on us to make the right decisions.”
Congressman Eliot Engel
“As a father of three, I am horrified by the violence committed against these innocent children and their teachers in Connecticut. As a human being, I am appalled that someone could commit such an insane act and actually pull that trigger ending those young lives. The grief I feel for the families of the victims is too great for words. We have had too many moments like this – 31 school massacres in our country since Columbine.
“Today, our nation mourns. In the coming days and weeks, we must come to grips with the horrors of the growing gun violence we are witnessing with all too much frequency. This country must keep guns out of the hands of deranged murderers, and the fact that we cannot pass sensible gun control in this Congress is a blot on our reputation. As I have said many times in the past, we must pass sensible gun control. We owe it to the memories of the children and teachers murdered today.”
On a personal note, my nephew, Father Luke Suarez, is a priest assigned to St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church in Newton, CT. The church and parochial school is just down the road from Sandy Hook elementary and many students from the public school attend CCD classes at St. Rose. Seven of his parishioners were killed yesterday. Father Luke was at the fire house within ten minutes of the shooting as part of the team set up to receive parents of the victims. Our prayers here at Talk of the Sound go out to the victims, the families, friends, neighbors and those supporting them as they struggle to comprehend, as we all do, an unspeakable tragedy.
Scott B. Weiner, Senior Rabbi Temple Israel of New Rochelle
Jewish tradition teaches us that anyone who takes a single life has destroyed an entire world. As you are all aware, an entire galaxy of worlds was tragically destroyed on Friday morning in Newtown, Connecticut. All of us are still reeling from the news and the ever-emerging details only provide depth to the horror rather than comfort. Some in our community are connected to those in Connecticut personally and so the pain is more acute. For many, as President Obama so correctly stated, we can only think of this as parents of our own children and cringe at the carnage - not only in physical terms, but in the loss to families and an entire community. Truly, this is a national tragedy - felt by anyone where someone has an ounce of compassion. As such, the flag has been flying at half-staff here at Temple Israel since we received word on Friday.
On Friday evening, I spoke to the community about the terrible event and focused on a few key points that I would like to relay to you now. First, Temple Israel mourns together at a time like this. Divisions of any kind, political or otherwise, take no shelter here as we regroup as a community. Second, each of us can find solace in the message of the Chanukah season - there is light amidst darkness. Each of us, in our own ways, has suffered pain and loss in our lives, but we each have also been buoyed by the comfort of friends, family and our tradition. The Jewish people are, if nothing else, an example of how to rise from tragic events. Chanukah reminds us that good does triumph over evil, ultimately; that light conquers darkness; that joy returns after an exile to the depths of pain and suffering.
Today was our first day of Religious School since the tragedy and many have asked us how we would address the situation with our students. Of course, our faculty and school leadership were prepared to deal with whatever questions or emotions may have been brought to light. That being said, because we are not aware what children even know of the massacre, or to what degree details have been shared, if any, we did not directly address the tragedy. You should share with your children, if you choose to tell them about what occurred, that Temple Israel is a safe place, a place where they needn't worry. Coincidentally, you should know that Temple Israel has been in the process of reviewing our site security, both in physical terms and emergency procedures. We are lucky to have received a grant to do so.
If you have questions on how to talk with your children about this tragedy we are here to help you. You can click here for a video link to a helpful clip by a psychologist on how to tell your children if you would like to do so. If you, or anyone in your family, need to speak with any of the clergy, we are available to you. We also encourage you to speak with our educators, Nancy Bossov and Rebecca Elkus-Ferst, about your children, our schools, and how we can work in partnership to make all of our children feel safe. While the scale of this tragedy is unparalleled, we are trained and prepared to help you with your grief.
While there will certainly be ample opportunities to weigh what can be done to change the pattern of these occurrences here in the United States, in the short term, let us use these days as an opportunity to show our love and caring for one another. As we conclude Chanukah today, let us not forget its message of bringing light to those who toil in darkness.
"May their souls be bound up in the bonds of everlasting life."
Superintendent of Schools Richard Organisciak
We were all shocked and saddened to hear the horrific news regarding Friday’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Newtown community.
In addition to educating students, our top priority is ensuring that they are growing and learning in a safe and secure environment. The emotional and physical wellbeing of our students is of the utmost importance.
Please take the time to help your children appropriately process any information they may have heard. We suggest that parents limit children’s access to news media and details of the tragedy. Excessive and repeated exposure to this traumatic information can cause increased anxiety among children.
Please be advised that our administrators, psychologists, social workers, counselors and teachers are here to assist you and your child if needed. All schools will make their professionally trained staff available on Monday and throughout the week in the event any child feels the need to speak to someone.
We are committed to the ongoing evaluation of our district safety policies and will work to continue improving and refining these measures to maintain a high level of safety and security for our students and staff.
During this very difficult time, it is important for all of us to support each other as we deal with the aftermath of this tragedy and the potential effect on our students.