President’s April 2022 Column


Awareness, what does that word mean to you? For instance, due to the goodies left by our doors’ we were aware it was Purim. Thank you to all those that prepared the festival bags and delivered them. We are also tragically aware of an unjustifiable war brought on by what some call a tyrant. This insight, this awareness, is due to a free press and/or social media feeds.

How can our awareness help shape our future? Are we just passive observers of the news, or can we take an active role in the safety of our community? And how are these all connected?

ALICE training has been delivered a couple of times within our temple. In short, ALICE is an acronym for the words Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. Folks can always use a refresher. And if you haven’t ever attended an ALICE training, please let us know and we’ll make sure to inform you next time we bring back CRPD.  The idea is if you can identify the words, their meaning and how actions can be applied to your situation; such can make a big difference.

For brevity and for this column, we will concentrate on only the first letter “A”, to be Alert, to be Aware. What’s Around you that can help? In this context, what does the letter “A” mean to you now and when should we practice it? It is my opinion that the organ we should first employ for this task is our ears. Our ears are always open, always aware, while our eyes have tunnel vision and can’t see around corners. We can judge too much with our eyes while we are capable of hearing another’s emotions in their voice. Maybe this is why we need to remind ourselves that justice is blind. But never would one believe that justice should also close its ears.

The entire Megillah, the Story of Queen Esther, starts with a chain of events that was only possible because Mordecai hears of an assassination plot … who tells Esther, who informs the king … My effort here is not to retell the Purim story, but to point out it begins with the awareness of.

It’s also present in our watchword, our primeval prayer, the Shema, the first word – Shema “Hear / Listen”.

The first sign of trouble in your environment is often what you will hear.

These ideas should resonate not only when in our Temple, but at the mall, at the game, and wherever you go. It is not that we should become hyperaware as if walking at night down a dark alley, but neither should we ever become complacent. For instance, practice awareness when at events – think, not who could do me harm, but rather, if violence were to occur (that is, you hear something) where is my escape route, where could I hide?

There is another proactive form of awareness, preparedness in the form of education. To be educated or trained (sometimes repeatedly) is an active way to take control of a potential future situation. Isn’t this the story of Esther? To hear of a plot, to communicate it to others and to have a plan thought out on how to help alleviate suffering and death (of one’s tribe).

To conclude with an admonishment to us all, there is no single more important training on this subject of safety as “Stop the Bleed”. You can learn more on this by searching the internet ( Nothing beats participating in live training. As part of our temple’s SCN involvement, I recently attended a virtual conference on this topic and its relevance for Temple communities.

It is our story to tell and retell. A story that can weave from heroines of the past to superhero’s trained to save lives today.