First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker, in a video message posted on the town’s Facebook page, condemned “horrifying” attacks on Israel.

WESTPORT — Shock and solidarity.

Days after hundreds gathered at Temple Israel to voice support for Israel in the wake of Hamas’ terror attacks over the last week, Westport’s town and school officials added their voices to the chorus of condemnation.

First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker, on Friday, posted the following statement on the town’s social media accounts: “The attack on Israel and its citizens is horrifying. There is no justification for senseless acts of violence.

“I, as the first selectwoman of Westport, along with our residents, stand with the people of Israel as they defend their country in the face of unspeakable terrorist attacks. 

“Many Westporters have family and friends in Israel. Our community is profoundly affected by this tragedy. I extend my deepest condolences for the lives lost. We are with you Israel.”

Tooker and Selectwoman Andrea Moore were among the Westport officials at the Temple Israel gathering.

The new TEAM Westport logo, a tapestry-like design that aims to reflect the “intersectionality” of race, gender, ethnicity and religious issues for which the committee advocates.

TEAM Westport, the town’s multi-cultural advisory committee, joined “in offering its deepest solidarity and sorrow to the people of Israel for the unspeakable and unfathomable acts of inhumanity they have suffered at the hands of Hamas. 

“As such, we also decry any attempts to justify or celebrate those atrocities. While there is much to be done to ensure stability over the long-term, in whatever is done, we urge the unrelenting focus on the humanity of all potential victims involved. 

“On the home front, we fully support the increased protection of the Jewish community within Westport and the greater U.S.  against the rising  scourge of antisemitism. 

“Overall, we encourage all segments of our community to join as one in this support with the full understanding that when one of us is harmed, we are all harmed.”

Thomas Scarice featured image
Supt. of Schools Thomas Scarice

And Supt. of Schools Thomas Scarice, in an emailed community statement, wrote: “Like all of you, I have watched and listened in horror to the atrocities committed in Israel over the past week. Categorically together with you, the Westport public schools stand against, and condemn, all forms of hate and violence.

“Our job as public educators is to support the growth and development of our students. That work is optimized in an environment marked by physical and emotional well-being, one in which students feel safe, and an abiding sense of belonging and affiliation. This is the foundation of all learning.

“As much as we try, the chaos and evils of the outside world penetrate the walls of our schools. When this happens, we respond to the best of our abilities. 

“Rather than divide and scatter, as chaos and evil can do, we work to pull closer together as a wider Westport school community to serve our students.”

Schools’ social, security response

To help support students, the superintendent said he has asked for guidance from Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn, president of the Interfaith Clergy Association of Westport and Weston, to schedule a meeting next week with local rabbis for advice on supporting the district’s Jewish students. He said he also reached out for suggestions during his monthly meeting with PTA leaders at the town’s eight schools.

School administrators, according to Scarice, also consulted Jewish Family Services “to coordinate and provide support to Jewish families or staff in need.”

The agency provides trained social workers who offer clinical support to people coping with emotional responses to trauma, expressing grief and fear, and finding comfort in community, he said.

Sacrice also offered assurances that the school district has “tremendous resources in place to ensure the safety and well-being of our students and staff.”

He cited the Police Department’s recently deployed School Safety Unit, which in addition to the school resource officer based at Staples High School, is composed of four armed officers assigned to patrol the town’s other school campuses.

Also, Scarice said, each Westport school building has a full-time security guard who can coordinate, if needed, any response with the assigned police security officer.