Jonathan Fast, an associate professor at Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work, is the author of the 2009 book “Ceremonial Violence: A Psychological Explanation of School Shootings” (Overlook Press). The six-year research project involves case studies of school rampage killings since 2000. He believes such incidents stem mostly from the inability of young people to cope with a sense of shame that is too common in a society in which people feel easily excluded. Fast, 64, who lives in Greenwich, Conn., spoke to The Jewish Week about the Newtown elementary school massacre. This is an edited transcript.
I recall, as a child, overhearing very racist remarks about Latino Americans where everyone below the border was referred to as “a Mexican” or as “cheap labor.” Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to do work in Central and South American countries such as Argentina, Guatemala, and El Salvador and had the chance to spend time in Panama, Mexico, and Belize.
“My feet is tired, but my soul is rested,” a 72-year-old woman told Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1956 during the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott.
This battle cry of social activism is echoed in Israel. Community leader Miri Shalem, who planned and executed last January’s flash mob in Beit Shemesh — viewed by more than 200,000 people around the world — has established an international organization advocating for full gender equality, Women Dance For a Change.
Young Families, Singles Flocking to Upper East Side; ‘The Memory Is In Their Taste Buds’: The Lure of Sephardic Food; Safra Synagogue Rabbi’s Growing Empire; Sephardic And Egalitarian at B’nai Jeshurun; Giving Voice to Sephardic Music.