Moving Beyond Thoughts & Prayers

I write to you today from a place of deep pain and frustration. I am shaken, not with surprise, but with the palpable devastation, anger, and heartbreak that have become so familiar in a country plagued by gun violence. Many of us were — and are — still reeling from the scenes of community members murdered while grocery shopping in Buffalo, NY because they were Black, when the news broke out of Uvalde, TX.

Nineteen young children and two teachers killed in their school; a place that should be a haven for them. Our communities deserve more than this. Our children deserve so much better than to live in fear.

Though I believe that everyone values human life and the right of children to grow up without the constant threat of violence, we are in a place that suggests otherwise. We have come so far down this path it may seem impossible to believe it will ever change, so we offer unsatisfactory statements and our thoughts and prayers, though we know this will make no difference.

More than one friend has shared with me that their children were the ones to comfort them this week. Our children have become so accustomed to this senseless hatred and violence that their standard days include active shooter training. Among the familiar scenes we face in the aftermath of preventable tragedies, this is perhaps one of the most painful for me as a parent.

Our children should not have to bear the burden of our societal inaction.

Jewish tradition teaches us to not stand idly by (Leviticus 19:16) and that we must not remain indifferent (Deuteronomy 22:3). Let us take these lessons and turn them into action. As a community, we can stand together in the face of gun violence. We can stand together against racism and other forms of baseless hatred. We can work to ensure that mental healthcare is accessible and available to all who need it. And we can advocate for crucial legislation that protects our children and communities.

We don’t have all the answers, and we won’t always agree on a single approach, but we do have strong voices. As individuals, we have the power to make meaningful change in a country that so desperately needs it. And, as our Jewish community has proven time and again, we can and must continue this work by truly listening to one another – holding on together to our common values of protecting, honoring, and respecting human life – and seeking ways to move forward, even if they are imperfect.

That is the message I have shared with my own children as we have watched far too many of these horrifying situations together. And it is one I hope our community will take to heart as we move forward, with heavy hearts but channeled energy.

May the memories of those lost – in Buffalo, in Uvalde, and in so many other senseless acts of violence across our country – be for a blessing and for a revolution. May these most recent tragedies finally spur effective and lifesaving change.

Shabbat Shalom,

P.S. If you or a loved one needs support during this challenging time, I encourage you to reach out to 703-J-CARING: the Jewish Community Support Line.

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