Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Pastoral Counselling Assignment

My blog-friend, The Velveteen Rabbi, is in pastoral school to become a full Rabbi. She posted up one of her assignments today, which I found very inspiring. Her response was very inspiring, and made me think. Her view is the Jewish one, from the perspective of a Jewish leader at a Hebrew school. Being pagan in general, and Hellenic in particular, I think differently from her, but our goals are very similar. This is my take on her assignment.

The assignment:

Imagine a dirty bomb set by terrorists has gone off in the closest major city to where you live and work, but not in your city of residence/work. Religious school happens to be starting in a week’s time – how will you change the opening week’s programming/classes to integrate this incident in a healthy way? Please write up a memo to parents and faculty describing procedures and program plans, recommendations for how to handle the situation with students/children, etc.

My answer:

Dear Parents and Faculty:

The terrorist attack on Baltimore city last week has frightened and shaken all of us. There are many rumors going around about the bomb and what it means for those of us living in Harford County, only a few scant miles north of Baltimore. It is the opinion of this school that we need to address those fears directly, and aim to help parents, students, and faculty alike in dealing with the issues brought up by this attack.

This week, all of our instructors and administration staff will be attending an educational conference explaining the result of this dirty bomb's explosion. It is our intention to make certain that all faculty are as knowledgeable as possible, so that they are able to answer the questions and concerns of both parents and students.

On the first day of school, we will address some of these concerns. Rather than assembling in our usual classrooms, we will meet in the gymnasium for a group welcome to this school year. Parents are welcome to attend, and we encourage you to come with your child that first day. We will talk about health concerns, and discuss any special needs brought about by the attack on Baltimore. We plan to have an expert from the National Radiation Commission join us to answer questions.

The following day, classes will start. The usual subjects will be covered, and we will attempt to present the students with a semblance of normality. Counselors will be available to help any students who need it, and parents are also welcome to contact them.

While our religious beliefs vary greatly, we are a strong community of like-minded people. I want each of you to feel comfortable coming to myself or to counselors or teachers for advice, or even a shoulder to cry on. Some of you have suffered great loss and we will do our best to keep that in mind as we begin this year's journey of learning. Let us keep in mind that death is but another point on the circle of life.

Allyson
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