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On Eagle’s Wings

On Eagle’s Wings

Eagle soaring with sunset behind

Less than six weeks since the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, still it feels as if we stand with our mouths open in silent disbelief. We, who live at “ground zero,” try to pick up the pieces. So many ripples of horror and aftershocks of pain and suffering reverberate still in the human heart of all who were touched directly or indirectly by the violence that took 17 innocent lives on Valentine’s Day 2018.          

How to make sense of the senseless? How to comprehend the incomprehensible?          

V’Y’dom Aharon,” and Aaron, Moses’ brother, looked on with deafening silence as he witnessed the fire that consumed his two sons, Nadav and Abihu, in an instant. At first, the only response is silence. Then, the burial of loved ones and the cries of the anguished, who can be comforted only by a community that grieves and mourns alongside them – the parents, siblings, spouses, and children – who bear the brunt of such unspeakable sorrow.

Then comes the anger, the anger of how could this have happened? Why did this madness enter our Parkland paradise and destroy our children and teachers, and, along with them, our confidence, our hope for the future?

So silent disbelief turns to shouts of rage; grieving gives way to passionate protest. Out of the depths of despair comes a voice of hope, an affirming response rises like a phoenix from the pit of anguish: Never Again!! Never Again!! Parkland students will avenge these innocent lives by swearing never to rest until meaningful gun control laws are enacted, here and everywhere. Parkland students, magnificent souls on fire, speak truth to power. “Parkland will be the tipping point!

What adults could not accomplish following the 156 mass shootings that have taken place since the federal ban on assault rifles was not re-authorized by Congress, our teens have begun to make happen, changing the course of history.

A small but mighty group of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, many of whom are members of Congregation Kol Tikvah, has grown by hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of like-minded youth around the world and especially throughout our country.

Over a million students walked out of school in protest on the one-month anniversary of the shooting, an unprecedented event in the history of protest and civil disobedience in our country. The March for our Lives, begun here in Parkland, will now result in millions marching in more than 800 locations worldwide on March 24th! Out of the few came the many. What others thought impossible has ignited a movement, a movement that will culminate at the ballot box in November and again in 2020. Either the lawmakers will change the law, or our graduating students will change the lawmakers.

The prophet Isaiah imagined a world in which things once thought impossible can yet come true. He imagined a day on which the lion will lay with the lamb, when the wolf will cohabit peacefully with the sheep, and the calf will play with the leopard…and a “young child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:5).

Today, our children are leading the way; they are tearing down the walls of apathy and cynicism. They are parting the waters of self-absorbed egocentrism and jaded “nothing will ever changeness” and replacing them with a call to justice, common-sense gun legislation, and the preservation of life.

I conclude with the words of the psalmist who said, “weeping may tarry for the evening, but joy will come with the morning.”

No, nothing will ever justify the loss of 17 innocent lives and the mourning for many will tarry for some time to come. But eventually, the joyful shouts of triumph will resound throughout the land, bringing some measure of comfort in the knowledge that our Parkland and MSD family helped to change the world. We will one day be able to say, “Our loved ones did not die in vain.”

Our tradition teaches that to save even one life will have been to have saved the entire world. This is our sacred task. May the precious souls of the individuals listed below, glow in eternity, lighting the way and inspiring us all to preserve life and ensure its safety for generations to come. In their names may we, with God’s help, change the world!

Alyssa Alhadeff
Scott Beigel
Martin Duque Anguiano
Nicholas Dworet
Aaron Feis
Jamie Guttenberg
Chris Hixon
Luke Hoyer
Cara Loughran
Gina Montalto
Joaquin Oliver
Alaina Petty
Meadow Pollack
Helena Ramsay
Alex Schachter
Carmen Schentrup
Peter Wang

May their memories forever be a blessing!

Rabbi Bradd H. Boxman is the senior rabbi of Congregation Kol Tikvah, Parkland, Florida

Rabbi Bradd H. Boxman
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