JFS Perspectives

Monday, April 01, 2019

Standing in Solidarity With a Community in Pain



Standing in Solidarity With a Community in Pain

March 15, 2019: It was the Friday after the “Bomb Cyclone,” the historic winter storm that hit the Denver metro area with a vengeance. I missed the bus stop for Jewish Family Service because my mind was still hibernating. On my commute, I had briefly seen a news headline about a shooting but went about my day catching up on work.

During the day, one of my co-workers came to my office and asked me if I had heard about the shooting. She said her sister had sent her the video and, without knowing what she was opening, saw the video of the massacre in New Zealand. She said the images were stuck in her mind. On my train ride home that day, I read the news stories and accounts of the horrific Christchurch shootings—another massacre, another tragedy, another terrible thing in the world.

At Jewish Family Service, I have the privilege of working with refugees, immigrants, and new American citizens—all foreigners in a new land. About 80% of my clients are Muslim. Most have fled their homelands due to war. They have lost their homes that were either taken away or left flattened by bombs. They have lost their families and friends, who have been killed or separated by distance and the depths of the sea. Here in America, some have found community, a chosen family within their faith groups. We all need support and community and our religious communities can often provide it. They give our lives meaning, structure, and a shared sense of belonging.

As time progressed, I heard from many people around me that the news of the New Zealand shootings brought terror and fear back to their lives. Several shared with me their fears that left them isolated at home, too afraid to go for prayers. No one should be afraid to worship and pray. It’s the one day each week when everyone speaks the same language and can experience a sense of belonging. Many have shared with me confusion, disbelief, and profound grief of how someone could do this thing. Through these conversations, it became clear, the tragedy in New Zealand is not just something awful that happened somewhere else in the world, it is a tragedy that happened to our community here at Jewish Family Service. It deeply impacted our clients. It deeply affected our colleagues, Muslim and non-Muslim. It affected our friends and families.

One of the core Jewish values at Jewish Family Service is that of G’milut Hassadim and the notion that we treat others with acts of loving kindness. Part of who we are and what we believe is directly related to what we do, our actions, our practices, our mitzvahs. During the week of mourning that followed the tragedy and hearing from clients about their fears, I began to wonder how to show compassion, how to act justly, and what act I could do to show respect, compassion, support, and care. How could we practice G’milut Hassadim in that moment?

I talked with a few of my Muslim co-workers and the idea of black ribbon arm bands came to mind. We decided that no one should mourn in isolation, far from their faith-communities, far from their friends, and far from their families.

black arm bandOn Friday, March 22, on the weekly day of prayer in the Muslim community and one week after the shootings, a number of JFS staff members stood with our clients, co-workers, and friends in their time of mourning. We all wore black ribbon arm bands in solidarity with a community in pain. We wanted them to know that they are not alone. We wanted people to know that we see them, we see their pain, and we stand with them at this difficult time. Perhaps the greatest form of compassion is the compassion extended to those who will never be able to repay it. Thus, to those who were slain, we remember you and we mourn your life that was taken. May G-d bring healing to our world.

 

Pictured above: JFS staff members wearing black arm bands to show solidarity with our Muslim clients as we mourned together.

 

Lindsay CadeBy Lindsay Cade, LPC, JFS Refugee Mental Health Therapist 

Lindsay Cade, LPC, joined Jewish Family Service in 2017 as a Refugee Mental Health therapist, specializing in post-trauma therapy, cultural transitions, depression, and anxiety. She works with refugees who have survived war and torture to help them find peace and reconciliation between their experiences of the past and their lives in this new and foreign place. With a Master of Arts in Counseling, Lindsay has been practicing psychotherapy since 2014. Prior to becoming a therapist, she worked in Poland, in cooperation with Jewish communities, coordinating Polish, American, and Jewish volunteers to see Jewish cemeteries restored, honored, and recognized. She enjoys all things Colorado, including hiking, snowboarding, cycling, bouldering, and amazing local beer.

 

 


Comments