As it was getting dark last night, I was in a public park in Woodstock trying to keep my candle lit against the intermittent breeze.
I was not alone.
About 100 others were there, at this candlelight vigil sponsored by Students Demand Action , a group of young adults who are championing gun safety reform.
Since the horrors that claimed over 30 lives in El Paso and Dayton this past weekend, I, like many of you, seemed to vacillate between helplessness, horror, and a looming numbness.
Another mass shooting… again.
Senseless murders… again.
None of us, no matter our politics, can look at the world that has been created for our kids and not know in the depth of our souls that something is seriously broken.
When I got the call yesterday morning from the young man, who was organizing the vigil, and he asked if I would be there to speak to the crowd as a rabbi who cares, I told him that I would have to call him back.
I had to take a few minutes to think… to lean into my feelings of helplessness…and to draw on our Torah traditions.
Since time as we know it began, we Jews have been called by God to act as a partner to heal a world that is sick, to fix a world that is broken. This is the tikkun olam that we speak about. There never has been any promise that being God’s partner, staring at the hideous rent that leaks pus and pain, would be pleasant, or easy, or clear, or quick.
Clearly, tikkun olam where it is most needed is messy… and ugly…and so very vital to the health of our country, our psyche, and our future.
I called him back and told him that I would help him, and the vision for gun safety reform, in any way that I could.
I’m calling on you to do the same. Will you?
We gathered together last night, led by teenagers who refused to lay down against a bleak future. And for the lives that were murdered by madmen, we lit our candles and held them close.
When the breeze came and blew out the tiny flame, we turned to our neighbor to relight our wicks. Sometimes back and forth, multiple times, trading fire.
This is how we keep hope alive.
This is how we march forth together against the madness.
This is how we act as God’s partner to take our world from where it is, to where we need it to be.
P.S. – For local events and action items towards curbing rampant gun violence, please visit https://momsdemandaction.org and enter your zip code under the Events tab.