Driving Home from Newtown

by Chossid December. 18, 2012 7670 views

The terrible tragedy in Newtown has been mentioned numerous times on PB in the last few days. I would like to post an article I just read, written by a former classmate of mine.

Driving Home from Newtown
BY Aviva Deren

(Chabad.org) Until this weekend I had never heard of Noah, or of his family. But Noah's father, Lenny Pozner, has a friend, and the friend had heard of us and called.

“They need you. You can speak to them, you can relate to them. Come, please come”.

There isn't much to say to a request like that. I knew why we had been called. It was not only because my husband is a compassionate and caring rabbi, who has brought comfort to so many hurting people. We were being asked to help because as bereaved parents ourselves, several times over, perhaps we had something more to offer - if only to be evidence that it is possible to breathe after the breath has literally been knocked out of you. With much trepidation I traveled with my husband to the house where the Pozners were. I walked in with a prayer on my lips that whatever we say will bring comfort, and not, G‑d forbid, add to the unbearable burden these people were already carrying.

We were brought to a quiet room, away from the hustle and bustle, to speak with Noah's family. I found myself listening to a broken-hearted mother describing her little boy, Noah, one of the first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown who was the youngest of the victims in the shootings last Friday. Those are, and should remain, private conversations, the kind of conversations that no one should have to have, ever.

What I do want to share are some thoughts that came to me as the day wore on.

Noah. The themes of the Biblical story kept playing in my mind. Noah. Someone described in the Torah as a tzaddik, a righteous person, “complete”. All of humanity are considered to be his descendants, bound in a covenant with G‑d, to partner with Him to create a world of peace and harmony, of justice, goodness and kindness. The almost universal symbols of peace, a dove and an olive branch, trace back to Noah and his story.

Lenny's friend is not Jewish, but he is passionately committed to the Noahide Code, the covenant that the Torah teaches was entered into by G‑d and Noah after the Flood, a covenant that binds G‑d and Noah's descendants for all time. These universal commandments are the antecedent of any formal religion. The Noahide code [chabad.org] is not based on clergy or houses of worship, but on the covenant between the Creator and humanity, the foundation for all human endeavor. Seven principles, seven commandments, that if they were implemented would bring about a virtual utopia of human existence.

“Noah loved rainbows,” his mother is telling someone. Rainbows! The sign of G‑d's promise never, ever to bring a flood on the whole world again. A symbol of healing, promise, and optimism.

We have moved to the High School, where the president is going to meet with each of the families. Governor Malloy and his wife Cathy come into the room first. The Governor speaks gently with each family member. He embraces my husband warmly, turning to the family - “This is my very good friend.” They speak briefly about how we go forward after this overwhelming tragedy. The Governor asks my husband to be in touch within the next 24-48 hours.

The president enters with no fanfare or even an announcement, and without being told to do so, everyone rises. I am moved to tears watching him with these grief stricken people. The power of this gesture is immense; he truly does convey the sense that the whole country is mourning alongside these anguished families. The way he bends down to speak with Noah's twin sister, the way he comforts the grandparents, and gently joshes the teenage siblings, the way he makes a point of saying, as he did later, that “we will be with you”, not just now but for the long haul. The President met privately with every single family, and took time to speak at length with each bereaved parent.

Noah's family did not stay for the vigil; we left the high school with them and the caring, close knit circle of family and friends that surround them so tightly. On the way home we listened to the president. I found his speech stirring, and even more than that, heartfelt. There was an authenticity in this speech that one does not often encounter in public life. In my opinion, the speech was simply magnificent. I hope that every classroom in our country will study those words and figure out how to translate them into real life. I hope that adults will hold those same conversations. Most of all, I feel that his words were a call to action to all of us, to access the best within us individually and as a country, to really, truly, once-and-for-all do what has to be done so that our world is a place where things like this can never happen again. To take those words of “never happen again” out of the fairy tales and put them where they can make a difference.

Late in the afternoon it hit me: We need a flood! Not, G‑d forbid, a destructive flood - we've had more than enough of that. What we need is a good flood - a flood of kindness, of caring, of compassion, of goodness, of warmth, of benevolence, of support, of reaching out. There are, thank G‑d, enough of us on this planet to make sure that not one human being ever feels lost. We need a flood of connections. Not just the trickles that come from time to time, but everywhere, all the time. We need to be at least as aware of the ecology of human behavior as we are of the ecology of the physical resources of the planet. It has to penetrate all aspects of our world - the worlds of business, the media, education, culture, science, the arts, medicine - we need a flood, a good flood. Every single one of us has to know that we can make a difference, and we need to put serious thought to how we can best do that. “Noah's Flood” could take on a whole new meaning.

My husband made a suggestion to the president, that in the effort to draw good from the unfathomable evil that occurred we should offer a “moment of silence” at the beginning of each school day. This “moment of silence” will allow those children who want to pray the opportunity to do so, it will foster discussion between parents and children of the spiritual values they hold dear as a family. This suggestion was first made years ago by the Rebbe, who always held the clear vision of a world perfected by the partnership of G-d and human beings.

And here, Mr. President, if I may respectfully offer one change - no, make that one addition - to your words. Yes, G-d has taken them home. But now it's time for the rest of us to make sure that G-d's home is right here on earth; to make sure that we, all of us together, bring Heaven down to Earth.

And Newtown will then forever be known as the place where light triumphed over darkness, the place where the healing of our aching world finally began for real.

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There are 29 comments , add yours!
Mikkal Noptek 8 years, 3 months ago

Great moving post. I wonder why american people are so fond of deadly guns nowadays

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Masoud Ahmadpoor 8 years, 3 months ago


8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Rob Gant 8 years, 3 months ago

Awesome tribute I like it

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Agnes Felber 8 years, 3 months ago

Beautiful post, Leah, thanks!

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Lisa Charbonneau 8 years, 3 months ago

Amazing photo and post...

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Eiram Marie 8 years, 3 months ago

Thank you so much for this post, Leah.

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Moira 8 years, 3 months ago

TFS this touching tribute to the bereaved and grand message of comfort to those left to carry on with their joyful memories of their dear children.

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Sandra Vermeulen 8 years, 3 months ago

This post, the words ... make me so humble and touching the deepest part of my soul.
So beautiful of you tho share this with us Leah. x

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Mike Meliska 8 years, 3 months ago

Amazing photo and post...

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Zajä…C 8 years, 3 months ago

beautiful photo

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Frances 8 years, 3 months ago

Beautiful tribute!

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
John Parsons 8 years, 3 months ago

Wonderful sentiments - it really helps to share....................

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Gillian Parsons 8 years, 3 months ago

Thank you for sharing this Leah

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Marsha 8 years, 3 months ago

Leah, Thank you so much for your post on Newtown and sharing the letter of your friend. It is one of the, if not the most positive and uplifting messages I've seen yet coming out of this tragedy. I like the idea of a "moment of silence" to start the day. I can't get on board when people suggest prayer in a public school because we have so many beliefs that would be sure to exclude someone. To give a child a moment in the day to pray, reflect, meditate or just be silently still is perfect. I truly hope the President takes that into consideration. Would you mind if put the link to your Newtown post on my Facebook wall?
Hope things are well with you, my friend. Take care, Marsha

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Karman 8 years, 3 months ago

Thank You so much for sharing this. This would be the most perfect way to have this tragedy change the world. If we all love fully what a would this would be. Thank You again. May you have moments of perfection that make for a wonderful day.

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Dannii L 8 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for sharing, these words made me cry, they are very stirring.
A wonderful photo too.

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Antonio Gil 8 years, 3 months ago

Wise and heartfelt words. Love will win.

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Olga Helys 8 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for sharing:)

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Dan Ravasio 8 years, 3 months ago

This article brings tears to my eyes and hope to my heart... I have been thinking again and again of the importance of simple human kindness and respect to one another and its power - and also the power when it's absent from interactions with others. It is all about love, caring and helping - that avoids tragedy much more effectively. A stirring picture Leah...

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Helen Hooker 8 years, 3 months ago

A wonderfully peaceful photo and a beautiful tribute.

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Andrã©S 8 years, 3 months ago

Amazing sunset.

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Gonia 8 years, 3 months ago

beautifull picture.

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Paolo Martini 8 years, 3 months ago

Beautiful words Leah ... thank you for sharing

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Finbarr 8 years, 3 months ago

Nice post !

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Roger 8 years, 3 months ago

Thank you for this post

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Evalizette Hansson Nordstrã¶M 8 years, 3 months ago

A soft and beautiful light
A strong picture Leah

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Sadhya Rippon 8 years, 3 months ago

Oh Leah, what a wonderful article. Thank you for sharing it, and for the beautiful photograph you have posted with it.

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Marilyn Grimble 8 years, 3 months ago

Thank you for posting these words.
Your photo is very expressive and relates to the tragedy.

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
Nurul 8 years, 3 months ago

what a tragedy... but nice photo sharing here...

8 years, 3 months ago Edited
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