A prayer after the school shooting in Connecticut

(From my email message to my synagogue community on Friday, December 14:)

Dear friends,

Shabbat is approaching, but I wanted to share some personal reactions to today's terrible news out of Connecticut.

The tragedy is so horrifying -- and the Hoboken connection brings the potential for tragedy so close to home.  While the news is constantly changing, at this point it is not unreasonable to imagine an alternate scenario in which this massacre would  have unfolded in Hoboken rather than in Connecticut.  We cannot pretend that we are not connected to this tragedy.

At the bottom of this email I have tried to express some of my most heartfelt prayers at this painful moment. 

Those of us with children may appreciate some suggestions for discussing such horrifying events with children; for example, http://www.nmha.org/go/information/get-info/coping-with-disaster/helping-children-handle-disaster-related-anxiety

This tragedy reminds us all -- in our families and in our institutions -- to have well-developed plans for how to respond in case of emergency.   

Despite this tragedy, it remains the case that elementary schools are among the safest environments for children -- safer than almost any other location where elementary school age children go.  But our nation has the responsibility to take whatever steps are necessary to make such outrageous occurrences even less likely.  I hope there will be a robust debate in our society about what steps could be taken to prevent such tragedies in the future.

Wishing you a Shabbat of peace, and remaining days of Hanukkah that increase your quotient of light and warmth in the world.

Dear God, 

מפי עוללים ויונקים יסדת עז למען צורריך להשבית אויב ומתנקם

(תהילים ח)
From the mouths of young children
may You establish Your power
against Your enemies,
to silence every foe and avenger. (Psalm 8)

הרי בנינו עורבים אותנו
(שיר השירים רבה א.ד)
Our children are our guarantors. (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 1:4)

Our hearts break any time we hear of violence afflicting the innocent -- 

all the more so when we hear of the tragic loss of children.

Dear God, be with the parents, siblings, and other family members who are mourning an unthinkable tragedy today; 

send them comfort, light, strength, and peace.

Help us to create a world where all children can be safe to grow up and thrive,
where we can promise our children that their worst nightmares will never be real. 

Help us to create a world where troubled people can readily find the solace they seek
and can never achieve the power to inflict their torments on others.

Our children are our guarantors. 

May we be worthy to be their protectors.


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