Difficult Days Ahead For For Town In Wake Of Shooting

Weekend Edition Saturday host Scott Simon speaks with Rabbi Shaul Praver of Temple Adath Israel in Newtown, Conn., about how his congregation is coping with the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday.

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Yesterday, we spoke with Rabbi Shaul Praver of Temple Adath Israel in Newtown, Connecticut. And he spent much of Friday, of course, trying to comfort families following the shooting. I can't imagine the Friday you had, sir.

SHAUL PRAVER: Yeah. This is a day from hell in our town here. Basically, what came down was that we were all gathered at the firehouse and that's where families that didn't have, you know, good news about their children yet, they were waiting there. And it was a big scene. The FBI was there and there was an officer assigned to each family. And basically what happened is that the governor came back and announced that all of the kids that were brought to the hospital did not make it. So, it was a horrible, horrible scene of wailing. And clergy, all of the denominations, came and social workers and psychologists came and we just tried to help the families through that horrible time. We have one member that lost her son - a first-grader - and a friend of the congregation that also lost his son. And both first-graders.

SIMON: Rabbi Praver, you are in the unimaginable position of being expected to say something to grieving parents, a grieving community. Can we ask what thoughts are racing through your mind now? What is there to say?

PRAVER: I told the mother that was grieving that I personally believe in the eternity of the soul and that I believe that she will see her son again someday. And other than that theological comment, the rest of it was getting her to think about just taking a breath and not trying to plan the rest of her life out right now. You know, she goes what am I going to do without my baby? And just trying to get her to literally survive the moment. And I think we were able to do that. But there's going to be a lot of funerals taking place and a lot of help that's going to be needed.

SIMON: Rabbi Praver, you know at some point the question is coming to you: why do these things happen?

PRAVER: Yeah. I don't know the answer to that. I never try to present a theological answer to that. I think that it's more important just to have compassion and humanity and hold someone's hand and hug them and cry with them. I never liked answers, theological answers for things like that. Personally, when I lost people that I love as well. So, I don't try to solve it like some kind of a math equation or anything like that.

SIMON: And you have some very difficult days and weeks and months ahead.

PRAVER: Yeah.

SIMON: I thank you for making the time to speak with us, Rabbi.

PRAVER: Yes. And please, for all the listeners, pray for these families. We believe that your silent prayers will help these families overcome this hard time. So, thank you for the opportunity to say that to your listeners.

SIMON: Rabbi Shaul Praver of Congregation Adath Israel in Newtown, Connecticut. Thank you, Rabbi.

PRAVER: Thank you.

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