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Readers respond to bullied girl.


We had an outpouring of advice and reactions to Rabbi Rami's "One for the Road" (May/June 2012), asking for advice for a 7-year-old tormented at school for her Judaism. Mary Lou G. wrote, "First, we need to name what is happening. She is being bullied, which is like being beaten up with words instead of fists, and it is really wrong." Others felt deep compassion, like the Reverend Carol, whose "first and perhaps only response to a 7-year-old would be to say, 'I'm so sorry.'" A reminder came from Robert H. that "Jesus was a Jew, and that he told everyone who would listen that we are all God's children, Jew and Gentile alike. God 'hates' no one." Some, like Lisa F., felt compassion for the bullies, noting, "The God they are growing up with is a very cruel God that 'hates.' It would be scary to grow up that way"; and Jerry B. pointed out that "adults or children that bully are scared, hurt, or afraid and are trying to make themselves feel better." Sue B. reminded us of the story of Ruby Bridges, "the 6-year-old black girl who pioneered school desegregation in New Orleans and walked through angry mobs shouting obscenities at her."

Finally, Christine F. sent a touching experience on how these events can be turned into something positive.

"When my Japanese-American daughter was in second grade, she was taunted by her classmates for having killed Amelia Earhart. Her amazing teacher immediately put aside her lesson plans to gather the class and talk about what had happened and why it was wrong. She talked about how it was wrong for students to have said what they did and why the silent students were also wrong. Then she had every student write an apology to my daughter and called parents to let us know what was going on. Finally, she filed a report with her principal and school district. When I picked up my daughter that afternoon, a young boy and his mom came forward. Tearfully, he told her how sorry he was for not standing up for her. While the incident was unfortunate, my daughter's courage in naming what had happened and her teacher's compassionate but firm way of responding turned it into a powerful teaching moment."

Rabbi Rami responds: Thank you all so much for your thoughtful responses. I was tempted to comment on them and then realized that there was no need. This was simply your hearts reaching out to the hearts of this girl and her parents, and to comment was to somehow lessen the gift. It is heartening to know there are people out there for whom love trumps fear.

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Title Annotation:TALK TO US
Publication:Spirituality & Health Magazine
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jul 1, 2012
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