EDITORIAL: Pittsburgh, Parkland and your bar mitzvah


By The Boiling Point Editorial Board   

Shock, horror, confusion, despair. When we hear news of mass shooting, and these days that’s regularly, we become numb. Numb because we still cannot understand why someone did something so horrible. Numb because we cannot believe that it happened again. Numb because darkness continues to suck out light from our world, making it harder to feel.

The two most recent shootings hit particularly close to home. One was just 38 miles away from our school and one was a deliberate attack against people like us. And they come less than a year after one hit a high school not that different from ours.

What are we supposed to do with all of this? And with the near certainty that that Thousand Oaks was not the last time something that horrible will happen?

There’s something in all of our backgrounds that holds an answer. When we became b’nai mitzvah, we took responsibility upon ourselves to keep the mitzvot. At the young ages of 12 and 13, we were designated and celebrated as full-fledged adults, with the same obligations under Jewish law as our parents and grandparents.

Now, our ages range from 14 to 18 years old. We’re between two and six years older than we were when we accepted the responsibilities of Judaism.

Now, we should similarly take our place in the secular world and care. We should read the news. We should be people who ask a lot of questions at the Shabbat table so we can understand the complicated topic being discussed.

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We should start caring about the outside world if we do not already. To know what to do, what to say or how to contribute, we need to be informed about what’s going on.

Let’s use Parkland as an example. Students there used their voices to advocate for a solution and brought thousands of people out to vote with that cause in mind. People ages 18 to 29 made up 13 percent of voters this year nationwide, according to The Atlantic. This is an 18 percent increase compared to the 11% turnout of the same age group in the 2014 midterms.

When these tragedies strike, we too should use our voices, to advocate and to pray. And in between, we can be learning, planning and taking a stand like the adults we pledged to be when we gave our bar and bat mitzvah speeches in middle school.

Let’s not wait for something else to happen to get involved. Each of us should take it upon him or herself to find a cause and work to make a difference. That’s the best — and the most Jewish– response to shock, horror, confusion and despair.

This story won First Prize in Editorials in the 2019 Jewish Scholastic Journalism Awards sponsored by the Jewish Scholastic Press Association.

Unsigned editorials represent the majority view of the members of the Editorial Board, which consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Managing Editor, Deputy Editor-in-Chief, Web Editor-in-Chief, Community Editor and Faculty Advisor. We welcome submissions for signed editorials from members of the Shalhevet Community, and the final decision about printing them is made by the Editorial Board. Submissions should be emailed to [email protected]

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