As 5779 comes to a close and we begin 5780, I am reminded how much I love Rosh Hashanah. Not only do I love the holiday, but I also love listening to my Rabbi. He is so wise, so learned and so interesting.
Rabbi Kurt Stone has been a part of my life for the past 25 years. He officiated my wedding, my son’s bris, my daughter’s baby naming, my son’s Bar Mitzvah and will do my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah in 2022. He has witnessed the most joyous moments of my life.
I was honored today to see my children be called up to open the ark and be up front with the Rabbi. This is the first Rosh Hashanah since my son’s Bar Mitzvah, so to see him in his tallit as a man of the congregation, gave me such pride.
He has also counseled me through the most difficult moments of my life. He has been a strong source of support since 2/14. He tells me how proud of me he is every time he sees me. When we got to services on 9/30, he told me how impressed he is with my strength and conviction, and then did it again after we were called up during the torah service. Before services began, he told me that his sermon could touch upon activism and fighting for something you believe in.
I sat through services as I always do. I say the prayers, sing and read responsively. I have such a strong connection to my faith and I always feel so energized when I’m in the presence of G-d.
When Rabbi delivered his sermon, I listened. I hung on his every word. As he spoke, I felt tears welling up in my eyes. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why that was. He wasn’t talking about me or to me. He wasn’t talking about 2/14 or anything that would’ve obviously made me emotional. He simply said that as we begin this new year, it’s important to remember that Rosh Hashanah is a time to reflect rather than celebrate. He gave a call to action for us all to get involved in something that is greater than yourself.
That’s when it hit me. I am involved in a cause greater than myself. I have been since 2/15. While I’ve always been an outspoken feminist and activist, gun reform and gun control weren’t part of my schtick until then. I have committed the rest of my life to speak out for common sense gun reform and to hold lawmakers accountable to pass gun-related legislation. I have dedicated the rest of my life to honor those lost at MSD on 2/14, as well as anyone I know who has been touched by gun violence.
I am a fighter, but at times it weighs heavily on me and wears me down. I know that I’m not in this fight alone. I have a huge support system around me and they keep me going. It also feels like I’m screaming into the wind sometimes. While some legislators make promises and make good on them, others speak empty words and make false gestures.
I work hard and fight not for me, but for my children. I work so hard to make sure that they have a safer world – that they can go to school and know that they will return home safely. I want to teach in a world where my students aren’t the generation raised on code red drills and school shootings.
I make a commitment to continue to speak up and speak out in 5780 as I have for the past 18+ months. I hope you will join me, or find a cause worthy of your time and energy.