Every Voice Matters
This weekend, I led a group of six teenagers from my congregation, Temple Shalom of Naples, Florida, to participate in the L’Taken seminar at the Religious Action Center. The exciting experience, filled with activity in Washington, D.C., culminates with students lobbying their congressional representatives. Having spent hours researching and writing their lobby speeches on topics including gun control, stem cell research, and disability rights, students asked about the impact of their efforts.
The answer came in a chance encounter we had on Capitol Hill. While waiting in a security line with other L’Taken participants, we noticed a little girl and her mother in front of us. The girl, about nine or ten years old, had on a t-shirt that said Sandy Hook Elementary on the front, and had a list of inspirational words including “hope,” “faith,” and “prayer” on the back. One of the students noticed, and asked me if I thought they were from Newtown, CT. I said it was possible, especially with the State of the Union scheduled the next day.
After going through the metal detector, I found myself standing next to the girl’s mother, who was collecting her items. She noticed my kippah, and asked where we were from. I responded that we were from Florida, and were in Washington, D.C. on a program with the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. I then asked if she was from Newtown, CT. “Yes,” she answered. “We are here for the State of the Union. I just want to say thank you to the Reform movement, and all the Reform Jews who called Congress and stood up against gun violence. Your support really means a lot.”
The mother and daughter left to meet with Members of Congress, and I gathered the students who were present to share the story. After hearing the mother’s words, they understood the power and impact that their efforts could have. Every one of us has an obligation to speak truth in the face of injustice. Every voice matters.
Adam Miller is the rabbi at Temple Shalom in Naples, FL and is a member of the Commission on Social Action.