Tragedy in Newtown

As the country continues to process the unimaginable tragedy that unfolded Friday in Connecticut, more details have emerged about the victims. The youngest among them, Noah Pozner, will be buried this afternoon. 

The New York Times, in a story yesterday about how local clergy in Newtown are dealing with the tragedy, wrote at length about the rabbi of the synagogue with which Pozner’s family was affiliated, Temple Adath Israel. 

Rabbi Shaul Praver watched closely as the grieving mother stepped into the funeral home where her son, Noah, 6, lay.

It was early Sunday, the first time that Veronique Pozner had seen the boy’s body since he was shot to death in his first-grade classroom two days before. A sheet covered his body up to his neck, and a social worker had urged Ms. Pozner not to remove it. She obliged, but began to wail, alternately telling her son to leave this “dark, horrible world,” and beseeching him to come back.

Rabbi Praver began to speak softly, he recalled. He told her that though Noah had physically left this world, he was not lost to them because his soul lived on. He asked her if she remembered her 6-year-old self and when she said she did, he told her that “when we become adults, our 5- and 6-year-olds didn’t die with us; they’re contained within a larger vessel.” He was offering, he said, a kind of “spiritual morphine.”

“She understood,” recalled the rabbi, who has led Temple Adath Israel for 11 years, adding, “We were able to leave the room, and talk about making arrangements for the casket, and shiva, and the memorial services.”

In the Forward, some more details about the Pozner family, which moved from New York to Connecticut in search of a more peaceful life. 

In California, survivors of a 1999 shooting at a Jewish community center north of Los Angeles connected with each other after news broke of the shooting in Connecticut, as they do after all such tragedies. 

Joshua Stepakoff and Mindy Finkelstein belong to a unique club. A fraternity, Stepakoff considers it, and they are called together every time another mass shooting takes place.

Virginia Tech. Ft. Hood. Tucson. Seal Beach. Aurora. Clackamas Town Center.

So when they saw the pictures of the children, rushing hand in hand, led by parents and police through the parking lot of Sandy Hook Elementary School, they knew that once again they had to reach out to one another.

"You hear about Connecticut?" he texted her Friday, 10:48 a.m.

"Ya. I’m beyond words. Had to leave work. How are U?"

Short profiles of all the victims available from the Wall Street Journal. 

NEXT STORY