At a time when so many non-Jews and Jews alike are afraid to speak out in support of Israel, we want to highlight some of the local leaders who did. Dr. Steven Cook, superintendent of Bend-LaPine schools is one of those leaders who did speak up. Following is his letter in full.
Bend-La Pine Schools joins our community in mourning the loss of so many innocent lives and the ongoing human suffering increased by recent international conflict. The violence is horrific and heartbreaking, and we condemn these acts of terrorism, hate and intolerance by Hamas. We stand in solidarity with the families in Israel and the surrounding region who seek peace, safety, understanding and a better future for all. Here in Central Oregon, we want to express our support for all students in our schools, regardless of their families’ faith, ethnicity, heritage, or political beliefs.
While we know these events are complex and ongoing, we recognize the significant impact they have on our community members here at home. We know, too, that our local Jewish families have experienced incidents of bias and hate in our own Central Oregon community that are incredibly harmful and unacceptable. Our commitment to fostering a safe and inclusive environment remains steadfast.
In our schools, we will continue to prioritize equity, dignity, and belonging as core values. We condemn any form of discrimination or bias based on one’s religious beliefs, ethnicity, or any other characteristic. We will actively work to ensure that every member of our Jewish community feels safe, respected, and valued within our educational environment.
In times of violent acts of terrorism, we also recommend that families closely monitor their children’s social media and internet activity. Images and footage from recent international conflicts have made their way online, and the impact of seeing these violent images can be profound. Our counselors and support staff are available to provide resources and assistance to any students or families who may be directly or indirectly affected by recent events. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you or your child requires support or assistance during these times. (See links to resources below)
As we navigate these challenging times, let us remember the importance of dialogue, compassion, and understanding. We encourage open and respectful conversations within our schools to promote unity and cultural awareness.
Together, we will overcome adversity, promote peace, and strengthen the bonds that unite us as a community. We are committed to creating a nurturing and supportive educational environment for all, regardless of one’s background or beliefs.
Know that our entire Bend-La Pine Schools’ family is here to support our Jewish community, now and always. We stand with all families impacted by recent acts of intolerance, and we remain resolute in our commitment to fostering an inclusive and caring school district.
Dr. Steven Cook, Superintendent
Bend-La Pine Schools