I witnessed the best the next generation has to offer. They rose up, spoke out and marched for life on Saturday March 24. Yes, it was Shabbat. And I believe that God calls us forward and commands us in a way, even to march on the sabbath, to make manifest the presence of the Oseh Shalom, the one who makes peace, into our world.
March 24 was also Shabbat HaGadol, the great Sabbath of instruction before the Passover freedom festival. Many Jews chose to attend one of over 800 marches to advocate for safety in our schools and seek a meaningful approach to reducing violence in our world. They rose up and stood and they were strong, in ways that resemble the rituals of how we honor Torah.
As we prepare for our seders, we remember that the freedom we celebrate is the core value of Passover. And yet freedom is lacking when the children among us fear for their lives in schools. Freedom is incomplete when public spaces are venues for violence. Freedom is not realized when our government is unable to serve the most basic function of protecting its citizens.
In the Torah reading for the first day of Passover, the enslaved Israelites get instruction for the Exodus. The directions for offering the Passover sacrifice are interrupted with a question that requires reflection on the purpose of ritual. The text admonishes us to be prepared to answer “when your children ask you, 'What do you mean by this rite?'” Today the young are asking, what do you mean by your laws that protect guns more than children? What do you mean by your inaction over 19 years when children are killed in schools from Columbine, Colorado to Newtown, Connecticut to Parkland, Florida. The children are asking and we have not prepared an answer.
With the adults failing them, the children took up the leadership banner in the march to freedom; a freedom from fear and violence. And we too must stand up and with great strength and an outstretched arm to join them. We must deliver our children from harm and free this country from rampant gun violence. We continue the march by restoring peace to our schools and protecting our children. And this trek should not take 40 years. With the children now at the lead, we will march even faster to that Promised Land.
R’ Evan J. Krame