I am devastated at the news of yet another mass shooting, this time at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pennsylvania. Earlier this week, a gunman tried to get into a predominantly black church in Kentucky and failed, so he went to a nearby store where he shot and killed two black customers. When gun violence is combined with hate, the results are tragic.
In the words of Tree of Life rabbi Jeffrey Myers, who wrote recently about gun violence, “We deserve better.” We deserve better gun laws. And we deserve better leaders who will stand up for the safety of our communities. The truth is, I did not know any of the victims personally. But this feels personal to me. And to my family and friends. Because our synagogues, though beautiful in their unique and individual ways, are all places of sanctuary.
Tree of Life could have been the very place my sisters and I would huddle next to our dad under his tallis as he blessed us with the prayer of peace, it could be the very place my niece would be bat mitzvahed in a few months or the same place my chuppah would stand when I married my husband. When you hear a congregation of Jews sing together in a synagogue; our voices rising together in unison; it feels like magic to me. And it doesn’t have to be about G-d. It is about the beauty of the Jewish people finally being able to pray freely and openly and proudly. It feels like hope. This feels personal because it is.
No other high-income nation puts up with this level of gun violence. It’s up to us to elect leaders who will put the safety of our families first.
—Elana H. Blumenfeld
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