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Finding Fives

07/01/2022 08:53:03 AM


Tami Raubvogel, President

I knew I wanted to be a teacher before I graduated high school. I had a singular focus through college and started my first teaching job at age 23. After teaching middle school, I became a middle and elementary school administrator. I have been working in education, in the public schools, for the last 30 years.

I think this is why the recent mass shooting at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas hit very close to home. Like many of you, I was glued to the news and talking with colleagues, family, and friends trying to make some sense of why this horrific act happened again. There was no shaking the unsettling feeling. I felt anxious and fearful of what and when it will happen next.

In school, we teach a strategy to help students find balance when feeling anxious, angry, or fearful. It is called the “Go to Five.” Essentially, everyone comes up with five things they can “Go To” that will help balance out emotions. It could be things like talking to a friend, taking deep breaths, reading, or exercise. This strategy helps teach kids coping skills in stressful situations.

I often call upon my own “Go To Five” strategies when it is needed in my life. However, in this situation, where at least 19 children and two teachers were gunned down senselessly and the relentless media outlets were spinning stories and passing blame, I couldn’t find my balance. The feeling of anxiety and fear would not go away. My “Go To Fives” weren’t working as they had in the past.

It just so happened that the day after the shooting, I had a meeting at the synagogue. Just walking into the familiar building was like a warm hug. I took time to read the Hebrew phrases above the doorposts of the chapel and the sanctuary. This simple act reminded me that I can take comfort in Jewish ritual. Jewish rituals that have helped people for centuries. Jewish rituals like reading Torah every week or saying the Shema every day.

One of my favorite Jewish rituals is preparing for Shabbat. I love baking challah. Not because I particularly enjoy baking bread, but I take comfort in the ritual. It serves to both still my mind and bring me joy.

Weeks later I still read about the community of Uvalde, Texas. I am still very angry about what happened and worried that the cycle of mass shootings will continue without strong action by our government and individual people.

But through this I was reminded that I have something else to add to my “Go To Fives” which will help me find balance and safety when things in my daily life are out of control.

What do you do when you need stability? What helps you find peace and security?

If you don’t have your own set of “Go To Fives,” I encourage you to come up with one. And if you need some ideas, come to CBJ. You may just find one to add to your list

Mon, August 15 2022 18 Av 5782