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A Month After Newtown

01/24/2013 12:47:59 PM


Dear Temple Beth Am Family,


As I sit in my office writing this article to you, I realize it is a little over a month after the horrific tragedy that happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. For me, the images are still fresh. I vividly remember watching the children fleeing their comforting school. I remember seeing the pictures of the parents in tears. And I still recall the feelings of sadness expressed by congregants about how difficult it was to cope with this “new reality.”


I strongly feel that tragedies like these are reminders that the world is not as simple as we might like it to be. I believe that God has created a universe that is not void of hatred, evil, and terror. While a world without these things would be favorable, that world is not the world in which we live. Rather, God has placed within each of us the ability to do acts of loving kindness, as well as, acts of absolute terror.


I believe that the tragedy of Sandy Hook remains solely tragic if it does not call us to challenge ourselves to: choose life! In other words, while we cannot blot out from existence all terror, we affect our own little existence. We can choose life, love, and blessing. In the book of Deuteronomy, God places the Torah in front of the Israelites, challenging them by stating, "I placed before you goodness and blessing, as well as, evil and destruction. Choose life, so you shall live."


For me, “choosing life” as a response to Sandy Hook means three things. First, I attempt to love my family more. When I look at my three children, it is almost impossible for me not to think about the families in New Town that lost their children. So therefore, I hug my children a little tighter. Second, I feel compelled to love my friends more. I find myself asking more people, more often, "Are you okay?" I ask because perhaps if the shooter's friends did the same for him, then maybe this horrific tragedy might have been averted. Lastly, I attempt to support the teachers and administrators in my community. All of them, I'm sure would admit, they got into this business because they loved children. They attended schools of higher learning to study approaches to teaching our children. But I'm sure none of them went into school believing that they would need to stand in front of an armed individual, protecting our children. I know they all would do that for my kids, even though, that's not what they signed up for. They are all very brave for doing what they do. “Choosing life,” for me, means I try to take it upon myself to tell the teachers and administrators of our community just how much I appreciate their work.


I believe that you too can do the same. I believe that you can love your children, love your friends, and love your teachers a little more. If all of us strive to love a little more, that may not annihilate all terror from our universe, but it will bring more blessing into your existence. And clearly, the more blessing that we bring into this world, the more light there is to outshine the prevalent darkness.




Rabbi Robbie Weiner

Mon, July 13 2020 21 Tammuz 5780