I hope that wherever you are that you are near an air conditioner! If you are looking for a place to escape the heat why not come to Temple Sinai this evening? Our pre-service nosh/oneg starts shortly at 6:00 p.m. followed by our Kabbalat Shabbat service at 6:30 p.m. Or, if you prefer, in the morning we will have – as we do every week throughout the year – our Shabbat morning Torah study at 9:00 a.m. followed by a brief Shabbat Morning Minyan service, all inside. If you are without air conditioning let me know and we will find a nice cool place for you to stay to escape the heat.
Sadly, it was one year ago tomorrow that scores of people found that there was no escape from the movie theater in Aurora, CO, where they had gone to see the new Batman movie but found themselves trapped by a nut wielding a semi-automatic rifle and other weapons. James Holmes ended up murdering 12 people and injuring more than 50 that night. Tomorrow, the yahrtzeits of the dead will be marked by special ceremonies in Aurora and elsewhere. We will remember them tonight before Kaddish at our service.
Some of us thought this attack, one of a number of mass murders committed using guns last summer, was terrible enough to get people’s attention and lead to legislative action to curb the availability of the most dangerous guns and ammunition, or at least a more comprehensive and effective system for background checks. That didn’t happen. Months later, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School attack, there finally seemed to be a groundswell to push for such legislation. Let me be clear: There WAS a groundswell that pushed for such legislation. But, it was to no avail. Our corrupt Congress, pressured by a minority of Americans who are resistant to any change, and the campaign money of gun manufacturers (represented by powerful NRA lobbyists) squashed those bills.
This week the Trayvon Martin case ended with his acquittal. Whether or not George Zimmerman was guilty of a racially motivated killing or acted in self-defense (or neither) is a matter of debate. What is not a matter of debate is that it would have been difficult for him to have killed Trayvon – and much less likely to have pursued him as he did – if he was not carrying a gun. Florida law, which is more interested in protecting gun owners from prosecution should they use their guns in self-defense than in protecting innocent civilians, may have also played a part in encouraging Mr. Zimmerman to carry and use his gun in his confrontation with Mr. Martin.
Let us pray for the soul of Trayvon Martin and those that died in Aurora last year. Let us pray that this summer will not be like the last, that we do not see the kind of mass shootings that went on last year. At the same time, let us pray for ourselves: God, please give us the strength and courage to continue the struggle to end the madness that has led us to allow our nation to be riddled with violence and infested with guns. Give us the courage to work for Shalom, peace.