Branching out: Catholic kids offer comfort to Jewish neighbors

Tree of life: Kids at St. Savior Catholic Academy donated an orange tree decorated with white doves to Congregation Beth Elohim.
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Students at a Park Slope Catholic school trekked to a local synagogue to gift their Jewish neighbors an orange tree, in memory of a massacre that claimed 11 lives at a Pittsburgh temple last year. The act of interfaith generosity allowed the kids to take an active and positive role in one of America’s darkest episodes, according to a parent.

“These kids are seeing an increase in hate crimes in New York City, and in our country,” said Sandra Rossier, who organized the event. “This is about giving them a tool to combat that hate, and trying to teach them acts of love, acceptance, and compassion.”

For the project, kids at Eighth Avenue’s St. Savior Academy folded 11 white origami doves — one for each victim of the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting in October — which they attached to the small fruit tree. The students then loaded it into a little red wagon on Thursday, and marched the six blocks to nearby Congregation Beth Elohim on Garfield Place.

There they were greeted by representatives from the synagogue, along with some tasty snacks in honor of Purim, amid a ceremony that moved attendees to tears, according to Rossier.

“We stood around the tree and hugged each other, people cried, it was quite moving,” she said.

The students’ act of kindness couldn’t have come at a better time, according to a synagogue staffer, who said the tree will serve as a reminder of their friends in the Catholic church.

“Now, maybe more than ever, we need our Catholic, Muslim and friends of all faiths to come together and support one another,” said Director of Membership and Engagement Sam Sterling. “Every time we look at this incredible Tree of Life, we will remember this most important mitzvah that St. Saviour has done for us. They are true mensches!”

The tree will be kept indoors until the summer, when it will be planted to serve as the centerpiece to a children’s garden planned by the synagogue, Rossier said.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 1:44 pm, March 25, 2019
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Reasonable discourse

Sharon Levy from Brooklyn Heights says:
Wanda, these kids from the Catholic School did a great "Mitzvah" Jewish/Hebrew word for good deed. I'm certain their Jewish neighbors appreciated their outreach very much. Your comment was wrong.
March 25, 7:51 am
God says:
Religion is a giant load of crapola.
March 25, 8:25 am
P. diddy from East Hampton says:
Hey kids, FYI, the increasing ‘hate’ crimes are occuring in heavily Democrat neighborhoods and let’s not forget the ongoing physical attacks against conservatives who voted for Trump or who wear certain red hats. Jussie Smollett sound familiar? CNN and MSNBC and their nonstop race baiting and demonizing of White men. Double standards and hypocrisy from the left mirroring the very fascist tactics that they rail against. Resisting a democratically elected President and lying about a fake conspiracy with Russia is another example of the hate spewing forth from the dying Democrat party. #blexit, #jexodus, #walkaway.
March 25, 9:48 am
Peter Pyle from Prospect Park says:
Let all those massacred because of hate and due to gun violence be remembered . Politics has no place in this mission.
March 25, 12:57 pm
Charlie from Brooklyn says:
Our children need more story like this ! Thank you !
March 25, 1:02 pm
Charlie from Brooklyn says:
Our Children need more stories like this one ! Thank you !
March 25, 1:03 pm
Henry Finkelstgein from Sheepshead Bay says:
White Men sure have it tough, even in in the greatest country on God's Green Earth. God Bless America !!!
March 25, 1:54 pm
Jacob from Coney Island says:
Mr. P. Daddy Where does the article talk about democrats vs republicans? You just made it a political affair when it should not. Hate is hate.
March 25, 2:28 pm
Ro from Park Slope says:
What a lovely thought, and to bring it over on Purim! More schools (and families) should teach such kindnesses to their children.
March 25, 2:30 pm
P. Diddy from East Hampton says:
Hey Jacob, just to clarify for you, this becomes about politics when the leftist Democrats and the media want to paint conservatives as bigots and racists because they disagree with them. The Democrats are the ones spreading division and hate in this country. They are full of lies and venom. I do believe you are in denial. Got it now?
March 25, 4:36 pm
Jacob says:
You are in the wrong story buddy. Go spread your hate agenda in dan’s paper though not sure they would put up with it.
March 25, 4:55 pm
P.diddy from EH says:
Oy vey Jacob, there is no ‘hate agenda’ other than exposing the dirty deeds of the Leftist Marxists, that’s called Patriotism, buddy.
March 25, 5:23 pm
Jacob says:
You are in the wrong page buddy. This has nothing to do with this story. I did not vote Democrat. Hate comes in all forms against Jews but also Christians as you saw last week in Montreal. Go take a chill pill.
March 25, 5:32 pm
K. from ArKady says:
Hey, they say politics makes for strange bedfellows, but Jacob and P.Diddy take the cake! So a question for you Jacob, and your new friend and political ally P. Vaccines, are they anti-semetic?
March 25, 7:09 pm
Dash from The Cash says:
Typical Still training them early
March 26, 1:22 pm
Florence from Huddersfield, NJ says:
Who gets to eat the oranges? Just anyone?
March 26, 5:17 pm
Peter Pyle from Prospect Park says:
Someone sure needs a Valium, and maybe a straightjacket also. How did this nice , warm public service story get to be answered with so much wrath and vile.
March 26, 5:57 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Religion is for dumb people. This is just a cone of awful soft-serve swirled with 2 flavors of idiocy.
March 26, 10:16 pm
God says:
Jim gets it.
March 27, 11:18 am
K. from ArKady says:
It's reflective of the broader cultural Zeitgeist.
March 27, 3:05 pm
Beverly Wong from Chinatown says:
Can the terrorist please be returned to the middle east, or do the liberals insist we keep him in this country?
March 27, 8:56 pm

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