Skip To Content
Get Our Newsletter
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe

When Prayer Is Not Enough

We Jews just finished Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement, when we beat our chests and apologize, together, for the transgressions of our communities.

Today we pound my chests once again —

For the sin we have committed against You by not using our voices with more fervor against gun violence

For the sin we have committed against You by abusing the intention of the Constitution and putting the 2nd amendment above our right to live in a more perfect, peaceful union.

For the sin we have committed against You by loving our guns more than we love our neighbors.

For the sin we have committed against You by letting the voices of the NRA drown out the cries of those who have buried their own children with their strength, love, and tears.

For the sin we have committed against You by allowing ourselves to feel tired and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problems, and ducking out rather than standing up.

For the sin we have committed against You by making it easier to purchase a gun than to buy sudafed.

For the sin we have committed against You by saying “now is not the time” and acting like “gun control” is a bad word.

For the sin we have committed against You by not holding ourselves to the standards achieved by every other industrialized nation.

For the sin we have committed against You by allowing civilians to own assault weapons and high capacity magazines that belong on a battlefield, not in a neighborhood.

For the sin we have committed against You by refusing to implement universal background checks and expanded mental health care.

And for the sin we have committed against You by not trusting our sense of indignation, by not speaking louder or working harder to save the lives of Your precious children.

Jewish tradition teaches us to bang our chests when we confess. But the Hasidic masters teach us that we should actually place an open hand on our heart instead. For most often it wasn’t our heart that transgressed. Our heart was doing its work of compassion and empathy. It was actually our hands, our feet, and our mouths that neglected to transform the intentions of our heart into holy action — in this case, the vital work of speaking out (even when it is unpopular) of writing letters and articles, of marching, campaigning, voting.

The time is now. No silencer can quiet our voices.

As we enter the holiday of Sukkot, we welcome guests into our festive spaces — praying that we are all able to dwell in a sukkat shalom — a shelter of peace. But prayer is not enough. We must raise our voices and demand the institution of gun laws that are vital for our safety.

In this new Jewish year of 5778, may all of the intentions in our hearts be strong enough to will our bodies towards the courageous action that our nation craves.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free under an Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives Creative Commons license as long as you follow our republishing guidelines, which require that you credit Foward and retain our pixel. See our full guidelines for more information.

To republish, copy the HTML, which includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline, and credit to Foward. Have questions? Please email us at help@forward.com.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.