Guns and Rights and the Sit-In

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 23 June 2016 @ 10:05 pm


I spent a goodly amount of time yesterday on social media, as the House Democrat #SitIn unfolded before my very eyes, and shared my thoughts on Facebook and Twitter. I found the words of Representative John Lewis (D-GA), a Civil Rights activist since his youth in Alabama, inspiring. Not simply because they resonated with me, but because of their galvanizing effect on his colleagues and people around the nation. I wondered if he heard Dr. King whispering in his ear.

I took to the airwaves and spread the message of #NotOneMore and #NoFlyNoBuy and #DisarmHate and #Enough. Because truly Enough. Enough bloodshed. Enough terror. Enough murder.

I didn’t bash those with opposing opinions. I didn’t call anyone names. I didn’t use bad language. I feverishly tweeted and updated with thoughts and prayers and hopes that, at last, there might be civil discourse.

Everyone says this is such a decisive issue. Am I being utterly naïve to believe that the sanctity of life should override one’s right to own a gun?

Yes, there are those who believe that the only way to protect life is for everyone to own a gun.
There are those who believe that the government does not have the right to dictate who can own a gun, how many guns, the types of guns, etc.

So let’s not talk about guns for the time being; let’s talk about life.

I want so much to believe that there is a common ground. That we have the same starting point; life is sacred and NO ONE deserves to be murdered. That everything else must come second to that ideal. And then once we have established that, we can share our fears and concerns about guns.

But the vitriol that spewed forth on my Twitter feed shook me to my very depths. (Those comments have since been removed.)

Disgusting comments that included, but were in no way limited to, name-calling, intimidation, and suggestive reminders that they had guns and weren’t going to let anyone take them away. No. Matter. What.

Among these vile remarks, however, were some points that I had not considered and/or of which I was unaware. Points that I have spent the past twenty-four hours researching, reading, discussing with legal experts, considering as well as listening to stations and channels that hold radically different views.

Has it changed my mind?

At least, not exactly.

My fundamental ideal still holds: life is sacred above all else.

But I have a better understanding of the flaws in the four bills voted down this week in the Senate. And of some of the concerns on the opposing side. And all of this research is really making me think, reevaluate, fine-tune, and better clarify my own positions.

Here, however, is my concern —

We no longer discuss things.
We no longer speak with respect.
We no longer consider that there may be other points of view.
And we are no longer willing to give even an inch because we are so afraid that in doing so, we will lose the entire fight.

two roads

How, O Holy One of Blessing and Reconciliation, will we ever sit together under vines and fig trees when we are so afraid to listen to the other side?

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Sacred Commitment: A Bedtime Story

by Rebecca Einstein Schorr on 17 June 2016 @ 1:46 pm

Once upon a time, there was a little girl. And she had a tante who told her the most marvelous bedtime story. All the time.

little lilly

(It probably wasn’t all the time, but this is how the little girl remembers it and it’s her truth.)

The bedtime story wasn’t of fairy princesses or fantastic adventures or teddy bear picnics; it was the story of Samson.

I don’t know why the little girl’s tante chose this particular Bible story. My guess is that the little girl wouldn’t stop talking and wouldn’t go to sleep and her tante was at her very wit’s end. (I wasn’t there, but I know this little girl very well…)

Several years pass. The little girl got older. But she always remembered Samson’s story and how he got his strength from his hair. And when she was about nine, she decided that she too was not going to cut her hair. Not forever, like Samson was supposed to do. For a specific amount of time. And for a specific purpose.

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Naso, we learn the terms of the Nazarite vow in Deuteronomy 6:1-21. Among the prohibitions of one who voluntarily takes on this vow is the cutting of hair. Though Nazarite practices are no longer common, the little girl was thrilled to discover that this was the Torah portion of the week that she would reach the age of Commandments — bat mitzvah. And the additional reading would be, in fact, the story of Samson, taken from the book of Judges.

age 9

And so the little girl, aged nine, announced that she would refrain from cutting her hair for four years and that her first act as a religiously-responsible Jewish adult would be to donate her hair to an organization that provides wigs free/low cost to those who have lost their hair due to cancer treatments.

Why four years? Surely her hair would be long enough to donate after just a couple of years.

“Mommy,” said the little girl, “I’m not really a very giving person. I don’t want to have very short hair after I donate the amount they require. But if I wait until I become a bat mitzvah, I can donate it and still have hair down to my shoulders.”

(The little girl was nothing if not pragmatic.)

Four years passed. Suddenly, it was time.


May I find courage within myself and strength from God to fulfill my commitment.


Barukh Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melekh HaOlam asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu lirdof tzedek.
Blessed are You, Eternal our God, who calls us to holiness through mitzvot and commands us to pursue justice.

final donating

Barukh Atah Adonai eloheinu Melekh HaOlam shehecheyanu v’kiy’manu v’higianu laz’man hazeh.

Blessed are You, Eternal Our God, who has kept us alive, who has sustained us, and who has brought us to this amazing moment.


And with that, the little girl is now a young woman. Released from her vow, her sacred commitment.

May she go from strength to strength.


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