Evanston/Skokie School Board member Joey Hailpern is Jewish.

His school board colleague, Omar Salem, is Palestinian.

On Thursday, they issued a joint message, saying that they “have come together in unity with a message for the D65 community.”

The board members stated that “We wholeheartedly condemn the senseless killing of innocent people in Israel and in Palestine starting with the Hamas terrorist attack on Saturday and the ensuing humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in Gaza at the hands of the Israeli Government.”

The pair said they know many district residents and traumatized and are grieving.

They added that “by nurturing an atmosphere of inclusivity, understanding, and acceptance within our schools, we can help create a future where all children feel safe, regardless of their background.”

Hailpern and Salem said that both as friends and as board members, they have thought at length about how to help District 65 teachers, students and staff to cope with a crisis so far away, but one which hits home so closely.

“The two of us, a Palestinian and a Jew, stand together against violence, hoping for a peaceful resolution to the war that has plagued the Middle East for far too long.”

And District 65 schools, they noted, should be a place where “the values of peace, justice, and compassion prevail.”

Interim Superintendent Angel Thomas issued a separate statement acknowledging the “heartbreaking and deeply tragic” situation and saying that counselors are available to help children and employees who may need emotional support.

Turner also said District 65 “is aware of threats of violence directed at the Jewish community” on Friday.

She said there have been no specific threats involving the district, however, “in an abundance of caution we are working closely with local police departments, and there will be increased police presence, especially at arrival and dismissal times.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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