‘We Roar’: Rabbi Ira Dounn talks about grief and staying connected

In the latest episode of the “We Roar” podcast, Rabbi Ira Dounn talks about the pain of grieving in a socially distanced world and shares thoughts from students who are finding ways to maintain relationships with each other and with Princeton.

Ira Dounn

Ira Dounn

“Princeton, to its great credit, does an excellent job engaging alumni,” said Dounn, who is the senior Jewish educator at Princeton’s Center for Jewish Life. “There is an opportunity, at Reunions, to come back and come back and come back again. And so instead of closure, what the students might be looking for is a sense of continuity, that their time at Princeton isn’t over … thanks to Princeton’s recurring tradition of Reunions and its focus on being a Princetonian not just for your four years as an undergrad but throughout your entire life.”

For those who are grieving the upheaval of the world — or the loss of a loved one — Dounn recommends showing up for each other, even if it has to be through a screen. “Just notice how they’re doing — in the screen — and be there with that person in active listening. And that will do a world of good,” he says in the podcast.

In his time at the University, Dounn has developed relationships with countless students, which he is working to maintain through all of the remote tools available: phone calls, FaceTime, Zoom gatherings and more. He reached out to students during and after their exodus from the campus, and he discovered that many were focused not on their own disruption but on the broader world.

“The students are absolutely extraordinary, as you might imagine,” he said. “I am routinely inspired and impressed by them — not just by their intelligence, but also by their compassion, their thoughtfulness, their empathy.”

We Roar” episodes are available for free on YouTube, Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes), Google Podcasts, Spotify and other podcast platforms.

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