It is at times like this that one realises the awesomeness of the people around them. I am in the lucky position of being surrounded by people who have this week shown their compassion, their resilience and their resolve. I have felt privileged to have worked this week with leaders at our school who have led with dignity and strength. I have worked with students who have continued bravely with their school day whilst supporting their friends. With security guards who stand with me at the front of the School each morning to keep us safe. With teachers who have continued to teach despite what is going on in their own lives. With parents who have taken the time to recognise and thank staff for what they are doing.

I can clearly recall a meeting over a year ago, when groups of us were discussing the School’s values. I felt very strongly that courage was an essential inclusion and I am very glad we now have it as one of our core values. Along with the connectedness that is inherent in our community, courage will keep us strong and united as we attempt to navigate the horror of what is unfolding and as we deal with its aftermath.

Although those outside the Jewish community may empathise and care, it is clearly exceptionally difficult for them to genuinely understand and feel what is going on. I remind myself that two years ago, this would have been me. At the PHC on Wednesday evening, I felt the strength and unity of our community. So many people came together - singing, praying, thinking of those in Israel (most have close family and friends living there) and just making the time to be together. Those of us who are not Jewish can only imagine what Jewish people across the world are enduring, but please know that we have you in our hearts and we are doing our very best.

Some of us find reading information a useful coping strategy. If this also helps you, please find here, a guide provided by Alicia Fernando-Lee, our Carmel School Psychologist. A Hebrew version of the guide can be found here. School parents should feel free to contact Alicia through reception if you have concerns for your child. She will be able to advise on the best way forward. Alicia has been providing helpful strategies to teachers, to enable us to provide the best support for the students in our care. Her advice, curated from her experience as a psychologist and the many resources at her disposal, includes the following points:

  • Act calm. Children look to adults for reassurance after traumatic events have occurred. Do not discuss your anxieties with the children, or when they are around, and be aware of the tone of your voice, as children quickly pick up on anxiety.
  • Maintain classroom routines as much as possible. Amidst chaos and change, routines reassure children that life will be okay again. Continue to have the same behavioural expectations but compassionate if a child is struggling.
  • Help children enjoy themselves. Encourage kids to do activities and play with others. The distraction is good for them, and gives them a sense of normalcy.
  • Encourage parents to prevent or limit exposure to news coverage.  Remind children that what they see on social media and the news is not going to last forever. Limit exposure. Children who believe bad events are temporary can more quickly recover from them. The 24 hour news cycle can be very disconcerting to primary school aged children and some middle schoolers.
  • Understand that children cope in different ways. Check in and if a child looks like they are not their usual selves, choose a good time to chat and check in.
  • Listen well

 Mr Lawrence has urged us to “continue living our lives and doing Jewish things”. This is what we will do.


Shabbat shalom.

Julie Harris