In the midst of joy, there is darkness



In the midst of joy, there is darkness  


Some thoughts on the
Parkland, FL shootings

As 17 young people and teachers were murdered in Parkland, FL last week, Jewish communities throughout the world were welcoming in the month of Adar. With Adar, we anticipate the festival of Purim and the joy and celebration that accompanies the holiday.

We knew it was the beginning of Adar, because it was a new moon…a time of deep darkness.

Sadly, even as we are commanded to “increase our joy” because the month of Adar has arrived, we were plunged into another moment of despair and loss. It is hard enough for us to explain to ourselves how we can live in a country where school (and other) mass shootings have become commonplace while they have not emerged to the same degree in any other first-world country on this planet. It is hard enough to explain to our teens that we are unable to create a society (and laws) that can keep them safe…especially in a place that we send them to learn how to become compassionate and passionate citizens both of this country and this world. And it is impossible to explain to our young children why they see and hear on the media – and see in the faces of their parents and guardians – fear for living out our basic lives.

It is a time of deep darkness.

Our Reform movement is a treasure trove of resources to aid us in coping with this tragedy and similar ones. I encourage you to CLICK HERE to access those resources. Perhaps you will find a poem that gives voice to your own feelings. Perhaps there will be a book referenced that you will choose to read to your child or grandchild. Perhaps there is a statement by a rabbi that offers comfort or challenge. Perhaps…. 

“Everytown for Gun Safety” has claimed that 18 gun shootings have occurred at schools since January 1EIGHTEEN! However, the Washington Post claims the number is accurate. They state, “Just five of Everytown’s 18 school shootings listed for 2018 happened during school hours and resulted in any physical injury.” JUST FIVE!


Whether the number is five or eighteen, it is one too many. There should be NO shootings at our schools. None. They should be safe places in which to learn, in which to grow.

What’s the answer? Take your pick: increased mental health services, increased school security systems, changes to our gun laws, changes to how we manufacture guns. Any – all of these – should be on the table and should be our focus. 17 innocent souls died this week. Not another should be added to the statistics. If one or a dozen more are, it is OUR FAULT.

Purim is a time of great joy. For the two Jewish families whose children were murdered in Parkland, there is no joy. Only darkness. May we discover the light in the darkness. May the light of action dispel the darkness of politics that has pervaded our country.

It is said that Purim will be the only holiday that is celebrated when the Messiah arrives. Why? Because there will be no pain and no death and no loss. May that time come soon…in our days…through our own efforts.