"Building Resilience After Tragedy," For The Community, May 5

Congregation Adath Israel of Newtown and the Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association will host a talk by Rabbi Seth and Sherri Mandell on Sunday, May 5 at 4:30 pm. Their talk, “Building Resilience After Tragedy — A Guide for the Individual and the Community,” will take place at Adath Israel, 115 Huntingtown Road.

Former Connecticut residents, the Mandells are uniquely prepared to address this topic from a Jewish perspective as well as from a very personal perspective. The Mandells lost their 13-year-old son to an unimaginable act of violence in the Jerusalem hills 12 years ago. Since their son’s brutal murder, Rabbi and Mrs Mandel have devoted their lives to helping the survivors and the families of victims of similar violence in Israel and around the world.

The couple has developed an approach to helping children cope with loss and trauma in the safety of summer camp programs. They also offer support groups and therapy groups for grieving parents. They do this work through a charitable foundation, The Koby Mandell Foundation, established in their son’s name. The foundation’s programs are well respected and have been used as models in other regions touched by violence.

The upcoming visit by the Mandells to the United States and to Newtown is well timed as the town and the wider community continues to learn how best to help those who are reeling from grief and trauma following 12/14.

“Our point is to touch people, give people tools, and give a Jewish perspective on how we have transformed tragedy,” said Sherri Mandell, who reached out to the Newtown community shortly after 12/14 with her letter, “Ten Ways to Help The Grieving Newtown Families From a Mother Who Knows.”

Mrs Mandell is a writer by profession and taught creative writing at Penn State University and at the University of Maryland while her husband served as director of the Hillel at each of those schools. She will be available after their talk to sign copies of her National Jewish Book Awards-winning book, The Blessing of a Broken Heart. She will also have copies of her earlier book, Writers of the Holocaust, available.

“We are speaking of two people that really get it and are uniquely gifted at helping people overcome unspeakable tragedy,” said Rabbit Shaul Praver of Congregation Adath Israel. “Adath Israel is extremely proud to host a healing program of this caliber in our sanctuary. We welcome the entire community and general public as our guests.”

There is no charge for the program.


Interfaith Gathering Also Planned

Preceding the talk will be the next Newtown Interfaith Clergy Association monthly interfaith prayer service. This service, started after 12/14, brings all of the faith communities in the area together as one voice, united in prayer. The service rotates to a different house of worship each month to support the healing of the entire town community.

A member of the association, Rabbi Praver said he is thrilled to welcome members of any and all faiths to join together again in the synagogue sanctuary for the May gathering. The service will begin at 4 pm. There will be a short break before the talk by the Mandells begins at 4:30.

“Building Resilience After Tragedy” will be followed by a reception hosted by Temple Sinai of South Burlington, Vt., a congregation that reached out to Adath Israel following 12/14.

For additional information about either of these events call 203-426-5188 or send e-mail to ritual@congadathisrael.org.

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