I'm sure you all have heard about the horrendous shooting of 11 Jewish people in The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. And if you haven't, I'm sorry that I have to be the one to tell you. But on October 28, just 3 days since I began writing this article, White supremacist, gunman and scum of the Earth Robert Bowers decided that on that day "all Jews must die." As a Jewish individual myself, no matter how many times I have read about this, I still get goosebumps. However, let's not religiously discriminate here; because in Louisville, Kentucky, two African American individuals, Vickie Jones, and Maurice Stallard, who were just minding their own business at a grocery store were shot and killed by another White supremacist and scum of the Earth, Gregory Bush.
My question therefore is...why?
No one is born racist, it is learned. I think the main issue that is causing this is the upcoming elections. Ben Platt, the star of Evan Hanson, a popular Broadway show, tweeted this out recently:
#GunSenseCandidatesBen Platt's twitter
I think this speaks volumes. Personally, I'm not a political person. I vote, and get my opinion out - but that's about it. I don't like the controversy that uproars after the word "politics" have been spoken, because frankly, I don't know enough about what is happening in the political world to form an argument.
But this is not politics — this is our humanity
And as someone who hopes to go into the social work field in the future, I feel it is my duty to be an advocate for the silenced and wounded - and I will do just that, and I hope you will, too.
Last night, I attended my first Vigil
My school, like thousands across the country, held one in memory of those who passed at The Tree of Life Synagogue and in a grocery store in Kentucky. I was touched and humbled by the kindness that my school's community, especially since I had a role in planning this. Additionally, I received hugs and words of encouragement from all people - no matter their religious affiliation - after I said my small speech to remember the victims. I would lie if I said I stopped getting chills days after thinking about that night. Looking back at the words I've written, I feel a sense of surprise and shock as I reflect because I had no idea that I had the ability to write words like that.
Here's is what I wrote
Let me start in saying thank you for coming tonight. Gathering here together is bittersweet. When I first heard the news of the horrendous shooting that took place in Pittsburgh, I was in my room, folding laundry. My roommate was watching the news, and I heard the words "a gunman entered a synagogue," and immediately turned around. She looked at me, puzzled, and asked if I reacted the way I did because I am Jewish - and I said yes. It is imperative, especially in a time like this, to stand together as one. I always wonder, when this will all end. As an individual who identifies as Jewish, hearing news like this made my heart skip a beat. We hear about shootings far too often, that this doesn't shock me too much. And what a terrible world to live in where that becomes anyone's reality. Truth be told, I don't know when this will stop. What I do know is that I am scared. And I believe I speak on behalf of my peers, friends, teachers, parents, and the community as well when I say so. As I type this speech up in the comfort of my room, I think that these people will never fold laundry again. They will never type on a laptop again, they will never smile again, or laugh again, or even cry again. Why? Because they are Jewish? Because they were praying? No, none of that. It's because of hate. I remember the day I heard about the Sandy Hook shooting, the ruthless murdering of 20 elementary school students. Adam Lanza didn't commit that crime because these children identified with a certain religion. Gregory Bush didn't murder two African American people in a grocery store because they identified with a certain religion. I ask you then, why? It's because of hate. I could go on, because when I looked up "shootings," google's search engine automatically suggested "shootings this week." But I won't for brevity. In the beginning of this speech, I stated that tonight was bittersweet. I say this because through all the tragedy that has occurred, we are here, together, in hopes of making the world a safer place. I ask you to open your eyes. If you see something that looks wrong, it probably is. I have fears of being in a classroom that I am often silent about. We have to stick together, because when hate strikes, we strike harder. When fear arises, we rise above. I hope for a day when no one has to say that they are afraid to be a classroom like I currently am. Finally, if I could ask you all to take away one thing from tonight, it's to come together and to remember that we are stronger than any malicious act. We will get through this tough time together. To the families and friends of the victims of the shooting of Tree of Life synagogue and Jefferson Kentucky Kroger, my thoughts and prayers go out to you. We will overcome this. The time to unify is now. Here at Rider - there is no place for hate - and I am nothing short of proud to be apart of that.
Don't get it twisted — this isn't about me,
Or my writing, or my ability to say a speech in front of dozens of people without breaking down into tears. It's about the victims, their families, friends, and anyone has been affected. I agreed to do this because I needed a way to give back. I know there is nothing I can do to bring these people back, but knowing that I was able to contribute in their honor makes me know that the chills I felt and the tears I fought back were worth it.
As someone who is not political, I've exercised my right to vote, and I hope you do the same.
We hold in our hearts the victims
1. Irving Younger, 69
2. Melvin Wax, 87
3. Rose Mallinger, 97
4. Bernice Simon, 84
5. Sylvan Simon, 86
6. Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
7. Joyce Feinberg, 75
8. Richard Gottfried, 65
9. Daniel Stein, 71
10. Cecil Rosenthal, 59
11. David Rosenthal, 54
12. Vickie Jones, 65
13. Maurice Stallard, 69
It is not enough to be peaceful and loving to everyone. If they want to be anti-Semitic, we will be anti-racist. The time to fight is now.