These are religious / spiritual reflections on the terrible events in Uvalde, Texas. I offer them as a framework for how to think about this horrific loss of life. Others, better suited than me, can offer opinions related to policy and politics. Below is a theological response and my way of expressing the overwhelming sadness that I feel.
If you are crying, I am crying with you. If you are angry, I am angry right along your side. If you are confused, I stand with you.
While saying Kaddish (memorial prayer for the deceased) at evening services after hearing about the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, I was over-washed by sadness and anger.
Kaddish is a prayer wherein we ask that God’s name be glorified - it’s called Kiddush Hashem - sanctification of God’s name. Since each person brings a unique element of sanctification of God’s name to the world, death represents the loss of some of that sanctity. Kaddish - “Yitgadal V'Yitkadash Shmei Rabbah” “May His great name be sanctified and glorified” - is an attempt to reclaim some of what was lost.
In Uvalde, twenty people were murdered and in turn, there was a massive desecration of God’s name- a diminishment of the sanctity of God.
The murderer cared not about the sanctity of those he murdered. He ignored the image of God present in each of his victims. With each murder some amount of Godliness was snuffed out.
There is great debate in this country as to what is considered life. We can all agree that protecting the life of innocent children is fundamental. We should galvanize around the violated and disregarded right to life that each of the victims had a claim to.
I am heartbroken thinking about the families in Uvalde who will not welcome their child home after a day in school. I am sick over the hugs and “how was your day?” that will not be asked. I am mortified thinking of the pain and cavernous sorrow being experienced by that community.
The most basic biblical tenet of Judaism is that we are all created in God’s image. I pray that we quickly learn to cherish that truth.
If anyone is feeling the need to talk about this horrible event, please reach out.
Rabbi Barry Gelman