King David High School, Linksfield, launches “Lashon Tova” campaign

| March 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

BY JODI STARKOWITZ
On 15 February 2019, King David High School, in Linksfield, Johannesburg, Gauteng, launched its “Lashon Tova” (good speech) campaign, which focusses on being kind and mindful when speaking to others.

According to Jewish Biblical Law, one is forbidden to speak “Lashon Hara” (directly translated as an “evil tongue”, gossip or derogatory speech about another person). The campaign was launched in a powerful assembly and will be continued throughout the year.
This type of campaign is relevant to all schools as the spread of gossip has become so much easier for all our students due to social media. Students have become so inured and desensitised to the use of gossip, objectification and rumour-mongering amongst others, that they fail to see that the words they use could be damaging.
Lorraine Srage, principal of King David High School, Linksfield, opened the assembly with the following words: “If you cannot be kind, be quiet. With this in mind, we launch
our “Lashon Tova” campaign at assembly this morning,
against “Lashon Hara”. This will be a whole school conversation going forward and will inform the culture of the school.”

Holding the community together
“Lashon ” intends to demean another person and cause much pain. There are people who speak out of turn as if they have the right to do so or because they believe it is their story to tell. What gossip or an evil tongue does in a community and in our case, a school, makes people suspicious of one another, and breaks trust amongst us all. Speech was never intended to harm: it was intended to hold communities together, to create trust and to build an environment which is inclusive and supportive.

Today with the advancement of technology, we are able to engage even more easily in irresponsible behaviour. We can spread lashon hara with one text, e-mail or photo.
Why then do people engage in this behaviour? It could be that people feel the need to be superior, or they may do it out of boredom, out of envy, to feel like they are part of a group, for attention, out of anger or out of their own unhappiness and pain. As Rabbi Schneerson1 said: “To be kind is more important than to be right”. Many times, what people need is not a brilliant mind that speaks but a special heart that listens.
We are determined to create a culture in our school where we encourage people to be themselves and not to be influenced by the words of others. We want our school community to be conscious and mindful all the time about what is right and wrong. We want a community of people who think before they speak.

Rubber bracelets a regular reminder
The school has secured 900 rubber bracelets from Israel. The words “Shaming shames me!” are printed on each one and all were
distributed to the, entire school (staff and pupils) to wear as a constant reminder to speak Kindly to one another. In addition, there are Lashon Tova posters in every classroom. Finally, pupils from the school wrote Lashon Hara words on paper, which was put together to form a beautiful massive heart, proving that something beautiful can come from something bad, and placed in a strategic area in the school as the lashon hara-free zone.
We remind each other constantly of the following guide: “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? And lastly, is it kind?”
Let us step away from a shame culture and acknowledge that shaming shames you. Shaming shames me. Never speak ill of others. And stay far away from those that do.

Jodi Starkowitz is a member of the King David High School, Linksf ield, marketing team.

Reference:
1. See: https://www.chabad.org/therebbe/article_cdo/aid/244372/jewish/The- Rebbe-A-Brief-Biography.htm

Category: Autumn 2019

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