On this Independence Day, Many Children Are not Free

Huntingdon Freedom Monument Eagle

An open letter to my three representatives in Congress:

As I write you, Independence Day fireworks are bursting in all their glory in New York City and Washington. Indeed, like you, I treasure the many freedoms of our great country with immense gratitude. However, it is hard to do so at this moment, when over 2,300 children are suffering from physical deprivation and emotional torture (a word I do not use lightly), illegal under both U.S. and international law. The New York Times recently reported a psychologist and a pediatrician who visited one of these deplorable border detention facilities noted that children are even being prohibited from giving one another physical comfort, not even a hug! Or, to quote an article in The Atlantic, “Children Cannot Parent Other Children.”

As such, I urge you to visit at least one of the Border Patrol detention camps and report what you have seen.

According to one civil rights group, RAICES, “Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Representative Ayanna Pressley came because they want to hear more than just what Border Patrol agents have to say. We know that Customs & Border Protection (CBP) practice is to cover up their unjust practices. That’s why the Congresswomen joined immigrant rights groups in touring a Border Patrol facility.”

I now call on you to join Representatives Ocasio-Cortez and Pressley and visit these facilities to see for yourself and to hold CBP and all representatives accountable.

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Berek
New Jersey, USA

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Teaching Respect. Teaching Kindness

Frontline Holocaust Education

 

Judaism. Christianity. Islam. Central to all three Abrahamic faiths is love, especially others. From the book of Exodus: V’ahavta l’reacha kamocha, And you shall love the stranger as yourself.

Congregants of all three faiths have recently been the victims of deadly hate attacks in what was supposed to be their sanctuary. A place of faith, of safety, of love.

Love comes naturally. It is what we are born with. The same can be said of altruism. Hate is something learned. And hate has been on the rise, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Anti Defamation League, and Simon Wiesenthal Center.

An insightful article from PBS Frontline explores how to teach about the evils of anti-Semitism in schools through Holocaust education. Moreover, Holocaust education is about fighting hate directed against all groups.

That piece depicts a project in which saplings from a chestnut tree have been planted at important locations throughout the U.S. And this was not just any tree. The chestnut in question was the one Anne Frank described in her diary as she peered out the window from her place of hiding. “From my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine,” wrote Anne Frank. “As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances might be.”

 

 

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/article/with-anti-semitic-incidents-in-schools-on-the-rise-teachers-grapple-with-holocaust-education/

The Future Is Here

Notre Dame is more than a building. She will be rebuilt. However, there’s another fire that shocks us. Climate change. And the Earth, once destroyed, cannot be rebuilt. This speech should leave everyone speechless. This brave, wise, and compassionate little girl, Greta Thurnberg, is a courageous leader. It is her generation that will have to confront what has and will happen to our beautiful planet. In my mind, she’s a hero!

God Is Neither Straight or a Dude

Pavlovitz God Is not a Dude

 

“God not a dude.” Very well said! Descriptions of God in the Jewish bible (Tanakh) are just that; they are not meant to be taken literally, as God (Hashem) demands “He” not be seen (especially in Exodus). Pavlovitz points out “ruach,” the spirit of God is a feminine word. I’ll add “shekinah,” also spirit, which is described as a feminine quality. All people were and are created equally; we are brothers and sisters.

 

Why Students Should Learn to Be Kind to Animals

From the window of his attic study, Janusz Korczak fed the sparrows every night. In his writings, he recalled stepping into a swampy area to save the life of an insect. These vignettes illustrate Korczak’s holding all life sacred, much as he did for children, the smallest people.

It has been my experience that children (and adults) who are kind to animals are also kind to their fellow human beings. Sadly, the converse is true regarding those who treat animals with cruelty.

Animals hold a certain magic for most children. They seem to relate to their their fellow creatures. And many animals do likewise for children, especially dogs. Many adults who love animals are those who become “little again.” As this beautiful article so aptly illustrates, learning to treat animals kindly reinforces empathy. And as a teacher of students with disabilities, all this holds extra truth.

So, with this, I turn to the article. “Humane education, which teaches students about animal welfare, fosters empathy and can inspire students to become change agents in their communities,” writes teacher Julie O’Connor.

Source: Why Students Should Lea”rn to Be Kind to Animals