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How and Why We're Creating Change in Our World

How and Why We're Creating Change in Our World

Group of teens holding gun violence prevention signs

Tomorrow we will make history when Reform Jews from almost every state in our nation will gather to do what we do best – bring our traditions to life by praying with our feet. Although this sixth sense of justice is nothing new to our movement, the circumstances with which we gather are. A bit over a month ago, the tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School claimed the lives of 17 innocent souls, one of whom was Alyssa Alhadeff, a camper at URJ Camp Coleman

Losing Alyssa—a soccer player, URJ camper, and devoted friend and sister—reminds us that it could have been any member of our community and intensifies our dedication to preventing such a tragedy from ever happening again. What we have seen since the Parkland shooting is nothing short of a revolution, and our movement’s youth activists are leading the way.

Reform high school and college students have been involved in planning, recruiting, and promoting tomorrow’s March for Our Lives events across the country, and we could not be more thankful for the logistical support and the creative autonomy gifted to us by our adult allies. Today’s Torah portion, Tzav, dictates that the fire on the altar in synagogues must burn at all times. Inspired by the leadership of our peers, youth activists throughout the country are committed to ensuring that the flame of this work will be eternal.

As both the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force co-chair of NFTY: The Reform Jewish Youth Movement and a 17-year-old forced to wonder if my high school will be next, I believe it is our responsibility as America’s next generation of voters and leaders to keep this flame alive – now and always. Our work doesn’t end tomorrow; our work truly begins tomorrow. On Monday, we will kick-off a multi-pronged advocacy campaign open to all. Part of what makes this campaign so powerful and so inspiring is that it involves every generation—parents and other adults, working together with young people and others to make changes our world needs. Thank you for marching with us and for continuing to speak up and speak out to let our lawmakers and the world know that #JewsDemandAction! 

Isabel Segel is the president of the Pennsylvania Area Region of NFTY: The Reform Jewish Youth Movement and the co-chair of NFTY’s Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. She and her family are members of Rodef Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Isabel Segel
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