Editor's note: These remarks were delivered by Rabbi Brad Bloom at the Hilton Head-Bluffton March for Our Lives rally on Saturday, March 24, 2018.
Today is the Jewish Sabbath. It is a day, according to the Torah when, God rested from the work of creation. And we, God creatures, call it holy. So my message to you this day is simple: Our task at this hour of rest and reflection is not to rest and not to reflect.
Judaism teaches that one can violate the laws of the sabbath just to save a life. That is what I am doing here today. I join you in sounding a universal call this morning to save human life.
Long ago, a sacred text in my tradition was written saying; “Whoever destroys a life, it is considered as if the person destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if the person saved an entire world.”
There is no more important task before us than saving lives. There is no more severe sin than to destroy lives. The parents and survivors of Sandy Hook, Columbine, Marjory Stoneman-Douglas and many other schools tell us that their worlds were destroyed. But first, we join together to remember the beloved and precious souls in our nation’s schools who fell victim to the callous, brutal and senseless murder of innocent lives. Let us take a moment of silence to respect their memories. O God full of mercy who dwells on high, please bring eternal rest to the souls who dwell beneath of shadow of your presence. For the pure and holy who shine as splendor in the expanse of your will and who we name at this hour to include all adults and students who have been murdered in the schools of America and who have gone to their eternal rest. O Master of mercy we beseech you to remember all the worthy and righteous acts that these beloved ones performed in the land of the living. And bind their souls into a bond of eternal life. The Lord is their portion and may they rest in peace. Let us say Amen.
The ancient adage "to save a life is to save an entire world" also speaks to this moment in American history. Will we save future lives from meeting the same fate as those we mourn for and remember this morning? Will we call upon something deep down inside us to say, “We shall not give up. We shall not forget. We shall not loose hope that we can convince this nation, including law enforcement, the courts, elected officials and the American people by proclaiming; “Enough?” Have we not learned the lessons from unchecked gun violence to say "we must not arm teachers?"
Instead can we arm ourselves with the determination and courage to send this message to our leaders: "No guns in the classroom, no more access to weapons of mass destruction. No more excuses?"
You, the students of this community, the future of our country, who march today should not march with hate in your heart but with fortitude and faith that what you are doing by taking a stand is the right thing to do and because it is a sacred act of God to preserve and protect human life.
Today our voices will intone the voices of the dead who call out to us and to whom we shall not forget.
Our goal is not only saving a life. We are marching to save our lives.
Our goal is not only to save a world, rather, we march to save our world today - now!
As you walk today, pay special attention to your feet. Imagine every step you take as a prayer in itself bringing us one step closer to the day, the day we long for, when every student in this country will, according to the prophet Micah, “sit under their vine and fig tree and none shall make him or her afraid.” For today we march in the name of the Lord.
We also march for the dead and we march for the living. We march for memory and we march for the future.
Save our lives.
Save our world.
Let today be a Sabbath of real peace for us.
Let it be peace for the students, teachers and parents of America and then peace for this world.