This Group of Congregants is Bringing a Better Understanding of Social Justice to TBE

After the recent weekend of reflection and exploration with our scholar-in-residence, Dr. Betsy Stone, Temple Beth El continues our commitment to mental health and support of those who suffer from burnout and trauma. Mental health is not just a personal issue, it is also a societal and justice issue. When working to help and connect with communities, we must first understand ourselves and those we seek to serve. One important step in this understanding is to explore and learn the science and physical reaction to experiencing trauma. Please join us at our Annual Justice Shabbat on Friday, January 13 at 7:30pm with special guest, Vernisha Crawford, CEO of Trauma Informed Institute, who will discuss this topic and how becoming a trauma-informed community will enable us to address these issues, both internally and externally – continuing the work of making the world a more just place. 

TBE was introduced to Ms. Crawford by a group of dedicated lay leaders who have continued to explore the subject of Trauma Informed Learning, especially as it related to education. Below, they share their journey and information about future training opportunities being offered at Temple Beth El: 

When children enter their school building, they bring all of themselves – their learning strengths and deficits, family dynamics, health history, and emotional well-being. Schools are not always up to the task of helping the whole child. Temple Beth El’s Social Justice campaign resulted in a group of congregants gathering to form an Equity in Education Working Group, that explored the many ways our education system can be supported and improved, in the hopes of addressing ways we could help schools provide resources to help all children succeed in school. 

Made up of the 6 congregants who authored this piece, we have recently re-named ourselves the “Trauma-Informed Education Group.” Beginning in 2018, many of us focused on studying the ways in which trauma affects children’s ability to learn. Professional trainers educated us in ACEs – Adverse Childhood Experiences, which can include verbal or physical abuse, parents going through a divorce, a family member with alcohol or drug problems, or long-term childhood health problems. Trauma may have devastating effects on children’s physical and emotional health, learning abilities, behavior in the classroom, and more. Even the COVID pandemic may be considered a trauma for children, if they lost a loved one, felt isolated from friends, or lagged behind in their schooling. ACEs cross all racial, religious, and economic backgrounds. 

Our working group has been collaborating with Vernisha Crawford, a Certified Trauma-Informed Trainer, to guide us in a direction that will make the biggest impact on the well-being of children. In conversation and partnership with Ms. Crawford, we have determined that the best way to do this is to facilitate training for adults who impact the lives of children, affording the children the opportunity to build resilience, and have gratifying and healthy lives. 

After many years of work, we are now able to bring in experts to train adults in our community. We are so excited that this training will be available to all interested Temple Beth El members and others working in our community. This training will be particularly relevant for those that are currently working with children or want to in the near future. This includes those that volunteer or work within schools, camps, and other programs in Shalom Park as well as other schools or child centered programs or are simply interested in creating stronger bonds with the children in their lives. Dates and times for these trainings will be forthcoming. In the meantime, if you have any questions or want to know more, please reach out to Nicole Sidman, Associate Director of Social Justice and Outreach.

TBE Trauma-Informed Education Committee

Barry Friedman
Fran Friedman
Shelley Friedman
Michael Norman
Milt Poler
Ginny Rosenberg

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