Message from Supt. Booker re: Recent Violence at Tree of Life Synagogue

Monday, October 29th, 2018 - Posted in All District News Latest Announcements

October 29, 2018

PUSD Families, Students, and Educators

It is with great sorrow that I reach out to all of you this morning. Over the past week, there have been multiple acts of hate and violence across our country, most recently with the attack on members at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. As the Piedmont Community stands united against hate, we recognize that an attack against any Jewish Community is an attack on all. I stand resolute in my belief that violence and hate, especially in a place of worship, is evil, indefensible, unjustifiable, and reprehensible.

I know I’m linked arm and arm with the PUSD Board of Education, Piedmont City Council, educators, families, and students when I denounce these actions—whether they occur across the country or in our own backyard.

As we mourn this tragedy, I wanted to make sure to provide resources from the Anti-Defamation League to help our staff, families, and students process, talk about, and heal from these senseless acts of violence and hate:

I also wanted to take this opportunity to share what our students in Piedmont are doing to educate and combat hate and discrimination.

A few days before the attack in Pittsburg, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Wozniak had been in communication with two high school students who co-lead the Voice Collaborative (VoCo), a student-led group that invites speakers to come and present to high school students.  They had invited a Holocaust survivor to come and speak to over 100 PHS and MHS students during their lunch.  We asked the VoCo leaders if they would write a short message to the Jewish Families of Piedmont (JFP) describing this incredible turn-out, and they responded on Friday, the day before the attack, with this note:

Dear Jewish Families of Piedmont Group, 

We invited a Holocaust survivor named Arthur Weil (also a member of the Piedmont community) to come speak at PHS on Wednesday, October 24th during lunch. Through his slideshow presentation and speech, Mr. Weil informed students about the personal experience he, his friends, and family had during this traumatic event and allowed for students to better understand the true impact such event can have on an individual’s life and how to move on from such an event. (Instead of hearing facts like the do in school, they heard his personal story from the source, which I think is very important and possibly their only chance to have such an opportunity.) 

After the presentation, students asked great questions, one being “What is the most important take-away we should remember from this event?” Afterwards, students reported to me that they really enjoyed his presentation and thought it was very impactful because Mr. Weil included the crucial details of the experience which truly resonated with them and let them see the true injustice these people were undergoing. 

Our attendance for this event was extraordinary. I had never seen our theater so full of students for an optional event! Mr. Weil even provided some of his poetry books which were gone within the first 5 minutes! The crowd was extremely respectful, and seemed to be very engaged to Mr. Weil. I think it was a wonderful experience for all who attended.

I would like to quote Dr. Wozniak in her message to the Jewish Families of Piedmont as I believe it encapsulates all of what we truly believe:

“In a world where hateful acts against innocent people continue to dominate the headlines, amazing acts of beauty, kindness, and goodwill toward others also take place.  The acts of our young people give me great hope for the future. I hope that in this dark and sad time that you find some comfort from knowing that Piedmont’s high school students chose to honor the life of Mr. Weil by giving him their time and respect–hearing his personal story so they can learn from the past and carry forward his message.”

My heart goes out to all of the families who attend the Tree of Life Synagogue—they will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

 

Sincerely,

Randall Booker

Superintendent, Piedmont Unified School District

 

Only material shown on this official Piedmont Unified School District web site is approved by the District. The District is not responsible for information placed on other web sites not established by the District that may relate to our schools or students.