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Hazzan Steve's Message


“Eleh ezk’rah, v’nafshi alai eshp’chah.”

“These I will remember, and I pour out my soul.”

Today, December 14, 2022, is the tenth Gregorian calendar yahrzeit of the victims of

the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders. As is our custom on a yahrzeit, we

remember the slaughtered by name:

Rachel Avino, 29, behavior therapist

Dawn Hochsprung, 47, principal

Anne Marie Murphy, 52, special education teacher

Lauren Rousseau, 30, teacher

Mary Sherlach, 56, school psychologist

Victoria Leigh Soto, 27, teacher

Charlotte Bacon, 6

Daniel Barden, 7

Olivia Engel, 6

Josephine Gay, 7

Dylan Hockley, 6

Madeleine Hsu, 6

Catherine Hubbard, 6

Chase Kowalski, 7

Jesse Lewis, 6

Ana Márquez-Greene, 6

James Mattioli, 6

Grace McDonnell, 7

Emilie Parker, 6

Jack Pinto, 6

Noah Pozner, 6

Caroline Previdi, 6

Jessica Rekos, 6

Avielle Richman, 6

Benjamin Wheeler, 6

Allison Wyatt, 6

The perpetrator’s mother, Nancy Lanza, 52, was shot in her bed at home. The

perpetrator killed himself. Two who were wounded in the shooting, Natalie Hammond,

40, lead teacher, and Deborah Pisani, survived. (My source for these names,

occupations and ages is Wikipedia.)

On NPR this morning I heard the story of the family of Jeremy Richman, the father of

one of the victims, Avielle Richman. Avielle would be/should be sixteen years old now.

Avielle’s father struggled in the aftermath of the shootings and in 2019 took his own life.

Many, many others, whose names I do not know, carry the memory of the brutal murder

of their loved ones and friends.

There is ample evidence that the perpetrator suffered from mental illness and perhaps

also was what has come to be called neurodiverse. Surely our society of both

tremendous affluence and inexcusable disregard of the needs of the needy can better

address mental illness, especially among teens and young adults.

But what I find even more inexcusable is the easy availability of weapons for the killing

of humans. Somehow, commanding us not to commit murder was insufficient, and

Torah goes on to require us not to sacrifice our children (Leviticus 18:21). Thousands

of years later, we as a supposedly advanced society have much work to do. I am sick

of hearing about rights without any consideration of responsibilities.

The NPR story reminded me that saying “I cannot imagine” how survivors and their

families feel in the face of horror (whether shootings or terrorist actions or

homelessness or food insecurity or daily prejudice and persecution) is not good enough.

Try to imagine. Imagine yourself in others’ shoes and walk around a bit. Thoughts and

prayers are not enough. The Holy One requires our actions in this world to join the work

of healing and repair.

“These I remember”. Say their names. Then do something.

With blessings for a week of light and engagement.

Hazzan Steve

החזן שלמה זלמן עיט בן מרדכי מרגלן

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