A few days ago, it came to my attention that some of the teens at our synagogue were upset with me. They felt that I hadn’t been publically supportive of their participation in the March For Our Lives. As you probably know, the march was organized as a reaction to the shootings at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, just over a month ago. About a dozen of our teens are joining some others from this area to head up to DC to join in what is shaping up to be a historic march. To make this trip more accessible to anyone who wanted to go, they also ran a GoFundMe, with all money raised going to subsidize the trip.
From what I heard, at least some of them feel that I should have spoken about the march and about their fundraising from the pulpit, and that I should have encouraged more donations in that way, too. There are plenty of reasons why I didn’t, but that isn’t the point—even if I was right on some level to not speak about this (at least in that forum), they are also right that I should have done so, because what they’re doing is so deeply important.
This shooting, and the movement which has been growing in its aftermath, has had a profound effect on some of our teens. For one thing, this was geographically close, which always seems to make tragedies feel more personal. But, more importantly, this shooting was close to our kids in other ways, too. Many of the students at Stoneman participate in NFTY-STR, our youth group region, and some of them also attend Camp Coleman, where some of our teens attend. A family who used to attend Beth Am send their child there. The point is that some of our teens personally know people who attend that school. Some of them were friends with one of the victims, Alyssa Alhadeff z”l. This is personal. And so, they are finding themselves deeply committed to this new, student-led effort to get something done to make our schools, and our society, safer. This isn’t just another march to these youth; this is bigger than that.
What we’re seeing—from our kids, and from the leaders of this new movement—is sacred work. And, I’m not using that term lightly, or generically. I think that we’re watching a group suddenly find themselves in the role of Prophets, whether or not they realize it.