April 6, 2022
The northstate is still reeling from the shooting over the weekend in downtown Sacramento, where six people died and twelve were injured.
Mass shootings. A horrifying reality, and one our teens often bring up during Passover when we discuss modern plagues. Going through each Biblical plague, we consider what might be a relevant contemporary connection. It is obvious to our teens. The first plague, blood (Dam in Hebrew), is gun violence. As a society, we should be sobered into immediate action when our young people make this quick connection.
Passover, which begins on Friday night, April 15th, is known as “Z’man Cherutaynu, the time or season of our freedom.” During the holiday we celebrate freedom from bondage. Historically we remember how we were oppressed for 400 years under Pharaoh of Egypt. And every year, in every era, we consider what freedom is. What bondage is. Even in a “free society,” we are still enslaved to certain things, and there are ways our freedom is diminished.
With every mass shooting, our sense of safety in the world is threatened. Is there a venue gun violence has not entered? We’ve seen it all: first grade classrooms, high school campuses, movie theaters, night clubs, markets, parks, concerts, spas, Halloween parties, and downtown city streets, close to home. Perhaps, most rattling is knowing even churches, mosques, and synagogues have been ravaged by gun violence. Surely, we cannot say we are truly free when this plague is rampant in our society. A house of worship should be a sanctuary from the harshness of the outside world–even that freedom has been disrupted.
“Do not stand idly by while your neighbor’s blood is shed.” Leviticus 19:16.
May these words from Torah remind us of all the ways we need to work for freedom, like freedom from gun violence in our cities and on our streets. This is the season to find that one small corner of the world where we can stand up and call out the injustices, the oppressions, the wrongs around us. Gun violence is one such area, among many. Aleynu. It is upon us to do our part.