A Rabbi Consoles the Grieving Parents who lost Their Son in The Sandy Hook School Attack
Rabbi Shaul Praver Noah Pozner
Congregation Adath Israel Sandy Hook School
Newtown, Connecticut Shooting Victim
Earlier today, an interfaith service was held at Congregation Adath Israel in Newtown, Connecticut. One of the members of this Conservative synagogue, the Pozner family lost their six year old son Noah in the mindless mass murder attack that occurred yesterday morning at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The spiritual leader of Adath Israel Synagogue is someone we know well as a mensch (decent human being), Rabbi Shaul Praver. We had often shared worship services at his country synagogue in northern Fairfield County. Newtown with its signature giant American flag pole was a landmark on our shunpike trips from our home in Fairfield, Connecticut to the inns of Washington and Lake Waramaug in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut.
Rabbi Shaul Praver is a friend from our days as a resident of Fairfield, Connecticut before our retirement to Florida. We had gotten to know his wife and children at annual Chanukah celebrations and other events. We had worked together on a number of interview programs on his public access channel TV program Rabbi Rock produced at a cable TV facility in Newtown. Rabbi Praver has a neshumeh (soul) reflected in his liturgical and popular music and his derash (commentary). We commend him for his consolation and assistance to the grieving parents of the late Noah Pozner family, members of Congregation Adath Israel. Noah's twin sister survived the murderous attack by the lone shooter who shot and killed the 26 innocent children and heroic adult staff at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.
The JTA published a story about Rabbi Praver ministering to the bereft Pozner family, “Jewish 6-year-old youngest of Newtown shooting victims”. The story illustrates the thoughtful counsel and devotion of Rabbi Praver to the spiritual needs of the Pozner family with their heartbreaking loss. Young Noah will be laid to rest on Sunday when President Obama will pay a visit to Newtown to attend an interfaith service and meet with the grieving parents who lost children in this tragic episode that has shocked the nation.
First grade student Noah Pozner, the youngest of the victims murdered on Friday had just turned 6 years old Nov. 20; he will be laid to rest on Sunday.
Israeli news site Ynet.com reported that Pozner's twin sister is also a student at Sandy Hook but survived the shooting.
Rabbi Shaul Praver of Temple Adath Israel in Newtown told NPR Weekend Edition host Scott Simon that he spent Friday -- which he termed "the day from Hell" -- consoling Pozner's mother, who is a member of the synagogue.
"I told the mother that was grieving that I personally believe in the eternity of the soul, and I believe that she will see her son again," Praver said. "Other than that theological comment, the rest of it was getting her to think about taking a breath and not trying to plan the rest of her life out right now, because she says, 'What am I going to do without my baby?'"
Praver was among the clergy, social workers and psychologists who arrived at a firehouse near the school where many of the victims and their families congregated after the shooting. On Saturday morning, Adath Israel held a community prayer service.
In response to the question of why such tragedies happen, Praver replied: "I don't know the answer to that. I never try to present a theological answer to that. I think what's more important is to have compassion, humanity and hold someone's hand and hug them and cry with them."
Praver, who ended his NPR interview with a plea for listeners to pray for the families affected, also said that another friend of the congregation was killed.
The family and loved ones of the children and adults, murdered in unspeakable senseless ways by this disturbed young man, deserve all our deepest thoughts and prayers of compassion to get through this intense period of grieving. This nation stands in solidarity with them at this time and for days to come.