TEANECK, NJ -- On Wednesday, September 11, 2019 “We the People,” a non-profit organization begun by Bergen County Freeholder Tracy Silna Zur, hosted an interfaith day of service at Yeshivat He’Atid in Teaneck, bringing together over 60 students from three different parochial schools: Yeshivat He’Atid and Dar-ul-Islah Hifz Academy in Teaneck, and Transfiguration Academy in Bergenfield.
“18 years ago, our country was attacked by those seeking to divide us,” said Freeholder Tracy Silna Zur, who founded We the People. “After 9/11, we came together as a community to remember the fallen and assist victims and families, and that spirit of coming together is an important part of teaching our children about what happened that day. Our diversity is our strength, and it’s important that students know that although they come from different backgrounds, we are all Americans and we can—and should—come together to help those in need.”
The students worked on a number of projects, such as creating “Smile Kits” containing dental hygiene items for needy families, First Responder Appreciation Bags containing snacks and hand-written messages of gratitude, and a collaborative art project. Students also heard from Bergenfield Councilman Charlie Steinel, a 9/11 first responder who shared his story of 9/11 and the days that followed.
Zur started We the People in 2017 as a response to increasingly divisive rhetoric in the nation. We the People has held three such events on Martin Luther King Day to similarly bring students together in service and to foster community.
“This is a time when we should be teaching our children that we should be moving past tolerance towards understanding each other,” continued Zur. “It was so inspiration to see these students, who despite having different beliefs and traditions, built bridges and became friends by the end of the day, while doing projects to improve the lives of others, together, as a community. It’s a message that out of something horrific, we can come together and build something even stronger.”
Support for the event came from Yeshivat He’Atid in Teaneck, Jewish Federation of Northern NJ, and We the People.