By Nathan Rix, NFTY-SW President
It’s been two weeks since the tragic massacre in Las Vegas. At this point we are all too familiar with the tragic events that transpired October 1st. The cycle seems to repeat itself. We wake up in the morning and check our phone seeing the latest headlines of another shooting in another place. Your social media feeds become flooded with articles with every detail of the attack and people adding frames around their faces showing their support. Soon the news returns to normal coverage and the temporary profile pictures begin to expire.
How is it that when I turned over the morning of October 2nd and I saw the headline “50 dead and hundreds injured in attack in Vegas” I didn’t even flinch? At this point it’s not so much the events that transpire, but the routine of it all. In the United States we pride ourselves as a country for being the leader of the world, the epitome of democracy, and the ideal of a western society. How is it that we let this keep repeating and accept it as normal?
In Judaism, we view a life as an entire universe. The Talmud teaches us that “he who takes one life it is as though he has destroyed the universe and he who saves one life it is as though he has saved the universe” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5). This is a value I grew up learning, the value of a human life. These horrific events happened in my region’s own backyard. The actions of one ripped apart a community. Part of what I value most about NFTY and NFTY Southwest is the way we inspire our members to be part of a Kehilla Kedosha, a holy community. Although, thank G-d, no members of our region were hurt, it still has rippling effect through all of us. The shooter managed to destroy our community, our universe.
We must have unity in our community and stand up for each other. We should pray for the victims of this senseless violence. May the memories of those lost be a blessing and we pray for Refuah Shlema, for healing of those injured along with their family and friends. Our t’filah, prayer, is important for us as Jews, but we can absolutely never stop there. The only way to break this cycle of horrific headlines is with action. We accept this as normal and the status quo, but this is never okay.
It’s too easy to focus on the horror, that the gunman managed to destroy the universe, 59 times over. Focusing on the horror does nothing unless you make a change. If we as citizens, if we as a NFTY Southwest community, if we as a wider NFTY community, if we as Jews, save a single life, it will be as if we saved the entire universe.
Where are we without action? Our goal is to stop people from losing their lives to those who seek to destroy the universe. We know what works and we know how to stop it – it is time to stop dismissing the idea of gun control as not going to work in America. The idea that there is nothing we can do is facetious and outright dangerous. We fall behind pretty much all other major countries in our control of firearms, including Israel with its strict restrictions on guns. States with fewer guns have fewer firearm related deaths.
Call your state representatives and tell them you are fed up. Quote the Talmud and explain how the laws, as they are, are not compatible with your religion. Follow up with the unbelievable work that the Religious Action Center (RAC) of Reform Judaism is doing on this issue along with NFTY’s campaign against gun violence. Make this a priority so the outrage doesn’t stop with the news coverage and maybe then, as a community, we can save the universe.