Our Children Are Answering the Call

“And God called.”

The third book of the Torah, which we call Leviticus, begins with this simply phrase, with God calling to Moses. Not speaking or saying or whispering. Not paging or texting or posting a billboard.

No. Here, in the middle book of the Five Books of Moses, God calls.

When we talk about someone who is truly invested in their work, we say they have a calling. They have what the dictionary calls “a strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action.”

What causes this inner impulse? Often it is a response to external forces. This week, we watched thousands of students heed the call as they marched from their schools to bring attention to their plight, to remind us that if we, the adults, don’t protect them, they will take matters into their own hands.

There is an unfortunate correlation here – when one person hears the call there is usually someone else who is deaf to the summons, who refuses to understand and who responds with anger and disdain.

That too happened this week, when many people chose to misunderstand the student walk-outs. They saw only that the students were leaving their classrooms and defying authority, and ignored the anger, hurt, fear, and determination that drove the children to act.

It isn’t just Parkland, or Sandy Hook, or Columbine that sent our children into the streets, although these are more than enough to justify their fear and anger. The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence reports that EVERY DAY FOUR CHILDREN ARE MURDERED BY GUNFIRE.

This week, I had tears of sorrow and pride in my eyes as I looked at images of children and young adults from school after school after school bravely heeding the call; high school students, middle school students, elementary school students.

And many times they were joined by their parents and teachers, standing in solidarity, knowing that all of us are in danger from madmen with guns of war on the streets of our cities, in our schools, churches, synagogues, movie theaters, our homes. Knowing that every day could be the last day.

If we, the parents the legislators the teachers the administrators the so-called adults, don’t do the right thing on our own, perhaps we will listen to our children. Before more of them are murdered.

Shabbat shalom, Rabbi Jennifer