Baltimore, MD - May 25, 2022:

Dear Friends,

Nelson Mandela wrote, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” How can we understand the murder of 19 innocent children along with two of their dedicated teachers? Can our minds comprehend the profundity of this tragedy? Can our hearts feel the deep chasm of pain? I was travelling yesterday and somehow missed the news out of Uvalde, Texas until a bit later in the evening, and I still find myself wandering in a fog. How can this happen in our great nation? How is it that mass shootings have become more regular occurrences in our civilized country? How can it be that our precious children are gunned down in their classrooms?

We know how this story progresses. Tragedies become politicized, and this horrific loss of life will become a way to advance agendas. There will be those who will argue for more restrictive gun laws and others who will argue that if more people were armed, tragedies like this could be averted. I’m sure there will be a discussion of mental health and the need for greater resources to help those who are struggling. To be clear, gun control and mental health are very important issues and should be addressed in a way which benefits greater society. But I feel there is something else. This tragedy is a stain on our nation. It is a stain on our flag. It is a stain on the very ideals, ideas, and freedoms which we hold dear. There is something broken within us. There is something broken within the heart and soul of our nation. How do we understand a mass shooting in Buffalo, NY and then in Uvalde, Texas just 10 days apart?

I don’t know what is broken, but there is something in a profound state of disrepair. The loss is too fresh to start offering ideas, suggestions, or insights; these precious children have not even been laid to rest. But it is time to think, introspect, and do a cheshbon ha’nefesh (self-evaluation). We must ask ourselves; how did we get here, and what can we do to turn this around? Even if we can’t yet come up with answers, we owe it to ourselves, our country, and our precious children to ask the questions.

With a broken heart,

Shmuel Silber