God, spread over us your Sukkah of peace. Just as we were completing Yom Kippur and preparing for Sukkot, we were faced as a nation with the horrific news of the unspeakable violence in Las Vegas last week. The massacre has left 58 dead and more than 500 wounded. I am heartbroken but also angry.
Unparalleled in loss of life, but like so many other senseless acts of violence perpetrated by a man with guns, I must wonder how long we will consider such attacks acceptable by products of the Second Amendment. There are solutions to this crisis that will preserve the right to bear arms, but protect us from the unfettered use of weapons made to work as machine guns.
A national database would lead to better enforcement starting with better communication among agencies to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not legally obtain them, strict monitoring of sites selling kits that turn rifles into automatic weapons, and being able to know when individuals are stockpiling weapons and ammunition. As ever, mental health treatment must be more readily available and affordable.
Of course, we can and should pray for the victims and their families, and hold up the memories of those killed, but Judaism demands more of us. We are commanded, “Do not stand idly by while your neighbor bleeds.”
Want to learn more? The Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism is a good resource. Learn more here.
The time has long passed for a better response than “thoughts and prayers”. Perhaps with this latest “worst event” we can move forward to a time when America will be a Sukkat Shalom, a refuge of peace.