A Week of Gifts

This week Gesher became part of the ongoing wave of anti-semitism in our country that has surged through JCC’s, cemeteries, and now Jewish Day Schools when we received a bomb threat on Monday morning. Our moments of fear and anxiety were brief, however, and the ensuing hours and days have been filled with love and support from both within and outside of the Jewish community.

This week’s Torah portion, Terumah, describes the process by which the supplies needed to build the Tabernacle, the physical home for G-d’s presence among the Children of Israel, were acquired. Terumah means gift or contribution, and even though G-d could have demanded these supplies, or even taxed them, instead G-d is clear that only those whose hearts are so moved should offer gifts.

This distinction is an important one, and it is one that feels particularly powerful when cast in the light of this week’s events. As I have shared elsewhere, Gesher faculty worked quickly and calmly with local law enforcement in order to get our community back to teaching and learning. Once we communicated our safety, the gifts began pouring in. We fielded calls from local, state, and national politicians expressing their concern and support. We spoke with neighbors, religious leaders from our local community, representatives of our sister schools in the region and nationally, all of whose hearts were moved to contribute love and support.

The most moving example I can offer of this special form of Terumah happened on Tuesday afternoon. On Monday I spoke with the Head of School at Green Hedges, whose girls’ basketball team were scheduled to play at Gesher the next day. He told me that, despite hearing some messages of concern from a few parents, they were still planning to come and play. He requested some information to share with his families about what a safe place Gesher always is, which of course I shared.

None of us were prepared for the sight that greeted us as the students from Green Hedges disembarked from their bus on Tuesday afternoon, though. The students, after hearing about what happened at Gesher, decided to walk into our building holding signs of support high overhead. When I approached the coach to thank him for this moving gesture, I was further touched by his response: “It was the kids’ idea,” he said.

Please help us communicate the following messages in the wake of the events of Monday:

  1. Our mission is to provide an outstanding education to Jewish children in Northern VA. Once we were sure our kids were safe, we went right back to doing just that.
  2. Those who hope to spread fear are failing. They are spreading love, support, solidarity, and community.

Tell your children, friends, and members of your communities, so that maybe those who are committing these cowardly acts will finally understand that they just don’t work.

Shabbat Shalom,