The story of Purim is built on an important premise: With faith, hope and courage, righteousness can prevail—and one person can make a difference in standing up to the deadliest of threats. This year, Purim comes at the moment in time when we Americans are facing one of the great horrors of our society: an unending siege by guns. We are a generous people; we dedicate ourselves, our wealth and our honor to protect the innocent. So why, we must ask ourselves, are we the only advanced society in the world in which there are regular mass shootings? According to the Gun Violence Archive, as of February 21, 2018 there have been 34 mass shooting incidents in America including the death of 17 students and educators in Parkland, FL.
We are the only civilized country in the world in which carrying a gun is not only permitted, but encouraged by our leaders, who are on the payroll of the National Rifle Association, to bear arms. Polls tell us that more than 80 percent of Americans want Congress and the president to know that we have had enough slaughter of innocents. How do our elected representatives respond? With silence. Why? Because the NRA provides millions of dollars in "donations" to our political leaders and, as a result, they do nothing while our children die.
But someone is doing something—the young survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland—and you need look no further than the holiday of Purim for a precedent. Reading the Megillah, the Book of Esther, we are reminded that evil can be overcome, IF YOU WILL IT AND ARE PREPARED TO FIGHT FOR IT. In the Megillah, we read of the intrigue to murder all the Jews of Persia. The villain, a wealthy aristocrat named Haman, had bribed rulers of all the cities and towns of the kingdom so that, despite what the people wanted, the corrupt rulers went along and were prepared to commit genocide. How was it prevented? One woman, Esther, had the courage to face the evil Haman and convince the King and his counselors that their evil plan must be stopped—and it was.
One modern-day Esther was Douglas High School senior Emma Gonzalez whose impassioned, tear-drenched speech galvanized a grieving nation and launched the #NeverAgain movement and the March for Our Lives. She and her classmates have found the strength, like Esther, to speak truth to power and upset the callous gun peddlers and their partners in Congress. We are already seeing progress as a national sporting goods chain vows to no longer sell assault rifles and businesses drop their alliance with the National Rifle Association. This is the message of Purim, 2018. Join the followers of Esther, our youth, who have seen their brothers, sisters and classmates slaughtered over and over again while the rich and powerful in our society refuse to acknowledge the truth.
I wish you and everyone in our great country a happy Purim and a commitment to cleanse ourselves of the shame and horrors of guns on the streets and in the schools of our great land.