Executive Director’s Report
Steven Wendell, UJC Executive Director
I have lived long enough to have witnessed many strange and baffling things in this country and around the world. But the article on the right that came across my desk this morning has to rank as one of the most bizarre and disturbing things I’ve ever seen. Perhaps it is a commentary on the times we live in; I sincerely hope not.
It seems like much more than 4 years ago, during Hanukkah of 2012, that the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School took place. Perhaps I’ve tried to block out the memory of that horrific day. As CEO of the Jewish Center for Community Services, Sandy Hook, CT, was one of my communities, just 8 miles from my home. I attended Noah Pozner’s funeral on Dec. 17, 2012. Of all the funerals I have ever attended, including immediate family, this was the most heart- wrenching. Sam Green, the director of the Jewish Funeral Home, is a personal friend. He described to me how, in all his years in this three generation, family business, he had never struggled so much as when he needed to prepare little Noah’s body, which was riddled with more than a dozen high caliber bullets.
Noah’s mother, Veronique, is an exceptional woman. Several months after she lost her little boy to senseless violence, she mustered the courage to testify before the Connecticut State Legislature on the issue of gun control.
(see link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=entboo3MKOg )
Veronique was vilified by the “gun lobby” after her testimony, and they launched a campaign to discredit the family, and all the victims and families, and portray the Sandy Hook massacre as hoax perpetrated by “left wing, anti-gun, anti-Americans.” During her testimony, as the video link shows, Veronique held up the last picture she had taken of her son, Noah, before he was gunned down in his kindergarten classroom. It is a picture of Noah, smiling innocently, holding a lit Hanukkah candle as he prepared to light to the Hanukkah menorah.
Reading the story below, and preparing for Hanukkah 2016, I am once again jolted by the memories of Hanukkah 2012.
(JTA) News Brief: December 8, 2016 5:56am — A Florida woman has been arrested for allegedly threatening the father of a Jewish boy killed in the in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut.
Lucy Richards, 57, of Tampa, was indicted Monday in federal court in South Florida on four counts of threats in interstate commerce against Len Pozner, who lives in South Florida.
Richards made the death threats because she believed that the school shooting was a hoax and never happened, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
If convicted, Richards could spend a maximum of 20 years in prison. She is due to appear in court in Fort Lauderdale on Dec. 19.
Richards called Pozner on the phone and said: “You gonna die, death is coming to you real soon,” according to the federal indictment, CBS Miami reported. She also said: “Death is coming to you real soon and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
Noah Pozner, 6, was the youngest victim of the December 2012 massacre. Twenty children and six school employees were killed when Adam Lanza, 20, forced his way into the school building and opened fire. Lanza killed himself at the school.
A Florida Atlantic University professor, James Tracy, was fired in 2013 after writing on his personal blog that Sandy Hook was a hoax and sending the Pozners a certified letter demanding proof that Noah once lived and that they were his parents, and that they owned the rights to family photographs of Noah published after his death.
So four Hanukkahs have come and gone since the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, and where are we as a nation on the questions Veronique raised?