The Tragedy in Newton, Ct: In Memoriam

Introduction to the Kaddish (December 21, 2012)
Rabbi Alan D. Fuchs
As we are about to read the names of those of our loved ones and members of this congregational family, we also will remember those who were murdered in Newtown, Ct.  this is very personal for carol and me and our son Dan who is with us this evening.  our son and Dan’s brother Douglas, his wife Diane and their two children, Rachael, age 15, and Zachary, age 13, live in Newtown.  Rachael and Zachary attended sandy hook elementary school.  Diane taught at least one of those ill-fated first graders when that child was in the pre-school where she works.  the sibling of a present student escaped the carnage by running out of the classroom and out of the school.
Douglas has worked in law enforcement since his graduation from Brandeis in 1988.  He is now the chief of police of Redding, CT, a town adjacent to Newtown.  He heard the Newtown dispatcher call for help while he was in his police car and raced to the school.  he arrived moments later.  The Newtown police had just burst into the school.  Tragically, the assault was over.  Douglas then was asked to be in charge of organizing the reuniting of the children with their parents, an event which took place in a nearby firehouse.  He separated the children by grade in one room and then connected them with their frantic parents in another.  he had to separate out the parents of twenty children who never returned.
He then was asked to be the point person to work with the secret service to organize the security for the President’s visit. He did that and met with the President when he arrived.
Since that time he has been in charge of organizing the effort in Newtown to bring order out of chaos.  He has brought in police from all over the state to augment Newtown’s small police force.  At least fifty police now are on duty around the clock.
Carol, Dan and I were in Newtown this week.  Sandy Hook is a tiny borough nestled in the middle of Newtown.  It is little more than an intersection of four country roads, one leading to a main street of a few stores and restaurants and several churches, one leading to the Newtown High School, and a third leading to Sandy Hook Elementary School.  At that intersection now sits a makeshift memorial of hundreds of dolls and stuffed animals, toys, candles and flowers along with the names of every victim.  Visiting Sandy Hook is to be witness to a constant line of traffic, the roar of police motor cycles escorting funeral processions of what might be a hundred cars, memorials, media, police, everywhere police, and people grieving, sometimes kneeling sometimes standing in front of the many memorials and banners all over town.   It is not unusual to watch police and firefighters at those memorials crying because of what they have seen.
At two memorials there were twenty- six little stuffed animals of every variety, each with the name of a victim.  Several banners in town read, “our hearts are broken.” the people of Newtown are holding on to each other, hugging, caring, following their daily routines, wanting their town to return to normalcy.  It may never be normal again.
Douglas was quoted in the newspaper, speaking of his involvement.  “I’ve been a police officer for 24 years and i have never cried in the line of duty. That all changed on Friday.”
We will silently think of the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School, as we read aloud the names of those the anniversary of whose death occurs this week.
And we add the names of those who have passed on to their eternal home in recent days but whose memory lives on in our hearts.