Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who lost a finger in the attack on the Chabad of Poway synagogue where one person was shot to death yesterday, has a perfect right to be deeply upset by what happened to his congregation.
But today I heard Goldstein speak about what he thinks the proper response should be to the attack, and I heartily disagree with him.
Goldstein said that prayer used to be allowed in public schools. Now, it isn't. Instead, the Rabbi wants every school day to begin with a moment of silence. We should know that God created us, he said.
There's a big problem with this -- the separation of church and state. Children shouldn't be subjected to a religiously-motivated moment of silence, which really would be the only reason for such a practice.
The remarks I heard from Rabbi Goldstein made it clear that he wants God to be reintroduced into public schools. He didn't say why he thinks this would prevent mass shootings, probably because there is no reason to think that it would make any difference in United States gun violence.
Here's part of a transcription on San Diego Jewish World of remarks made by Rabbi Goldstein. These are close to what I heard on my car radio today, but lack the mentions of God and prayer.
And I want to take note for other victims who suffered yesterday, physically, emotionally, spiritually. The best we can do to combat is to grow, build, and be stronger, stronger and stronger. And yes, every single one of us can do that. I look around at the myriad of cameras that are here.
The message needs to be brought out to the public ‘How does a 19-year-old, a teenager, have the audacity, the sickness, the hatred to publicize such anti-Semitism in [h]is manifesto? How does he come here to a house of worship to do what he did?’
Perhaps we have to go back a little earlier and think about what are we teaching our children? What are we educating our children? We need to perhaps consider re-introducing in our public-school system a moment of silence when children can start the day with pausing and thinking, ‘Why am I created? Why am I here? And what am I going to do?’
After listening to Goldstein speak, I heard a MSNBC panel of experts discuss the synagogue attack. They had a very different take on the cause of anti-Semitism. It was pointed out that anti-Semitic attacks rose by 57% in 2017, the year after Trump was elected. Trump's implicit and explicit endorsement of white nationalism is a likely reason.
A panel member also said that the Department of Homeland Security has eliminated a branch that was focused on combatting domestic terrorism. So the truth, this person said, is that the Trump administration isn't doing everything it should to reduce the threat from people who espouse white supremacy and white nationalism.
A moment of silence in schools seems wholly inadequate to counteract a president who said, after white nationalist marchers in Charlottesville clashed with protesters, "You also had some very fine people on both sides." Here's what the white nationalist "good people" were chanting in August 2017.
They immediately went after the Jews. At their Friday night rally at the University of Virginia, the white nationalists brandished torches and chanted anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans, including “blood and soil” (an English rendering of the Nazi “blut und boden”) and “Jews will not replace us” — all crafted to cast Jews as foreign interlopers who need to be expunged. The attendees proudly displayed giant swastikas and wore shirts emblazoned with quotes from Adolf Hitler. One banner read, “Jews are Satan’s children.”
Yet I heard Rabbi Goldstein speak approvingly of his 15-minute phone conversation with Trump, who reportedly likes the Rabbi's idea for a (useless) moment of silence in public schools.
Our gun culture is the main reason this country has so many gun deaths.
I've written about this in quite a few blog posts, such as "U.S.A. has more gun deaths because it has more guns." And Rabbi Goldstein should realize that Israel tightly regulates who can own a gun, as I noted in "Australia and Israel tightly regulate guns. Why can't the United States?"
After every mass shooting there's a call for thoughts and prayers. Which, obviously, do exactly nothing to prevent the next mass shooting.
Rabbi Goldstein would be better off giving up his nonsensical moment of silence idea, and instead study the chart below from a CNN story, "How U.S. gun culture compares with the world in five charts." The United States is one of the most religious of advanced nations, yet we have by far the most gun-related deaths per 1 million people.
Hmmmm. Could the reason be that we have almost half of all of the guns in the world, but only 4% of the world's population? Answer: YES.