Tragedy at Newtown, Connecticut

This week our nation has been profoundly shaken by the tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty six people died senselessly among them twenty first graders ages six and seven. Our hearts go out to all of the families who are in mourning as well as to the members of that community affected by this unimaginable disaster.    On Sunday I visited Mrs.Kramer's fourth grade classroom for "Ask the Rabbi". Without mentioning the events in Newtown, one little girl asked, "Rabbi, why does G-d allow people to do bad things?" I answered that G-d created people with free will, with the ability to make choices. Some people make terrible choices, and, sometimes, these choices cause themselves and others to suffer. We are not marionettes or puppets on a string that do whatever G-d wants us to do, I told the class. Sometimes, even, we may be faced with a difficult choice in our lives. We may not know what is the right thing to do. At times like that we should remember that we can turn to our parents, our teachers, our Rabbi, to talk and help us decide. 
One of the most poignant expressions of faith to come to light in the aftermath of the heartrending attack on the children and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary is a quote by Fred Rogers, of blessed memory. Mister Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers, many, many caring people in this world.”
Though our faith may be shaken by the evil we confront in the world, that faith  is reinforced when we see the bravery, compassion, kindness, selflessness and love demonstrated by the actions of ordinary people, coming together to help bind our collective wounds. This sustains us as well at a time of outrage and deep loss of the many innocent victims.
Please know that I am available if you would like to talk about this, or if you have questions about how to talk to your children about this. Rabbi Rudolph