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When We Wear Orange This Weekend

The Talmud teaches us in Mishnah Sanhedrin (4:5) that, “one who takes a single life it is as though they have destroyed the entire world, and one who saves a single life it is as though they have saved the entire world.”

One person, one life, is equal to the life of the entire world. The destruction of one life, according to our sages, was equal to the destruction of the entire world. We have seen far too many instances of lives lost to the scourge of gun violence, and as Jews, we are commanded to do something. We read in Leviticus 19:16, “do not stand idly by while your neighbor’s blood is shed.” These words command us that in the face of gun violence, we cannot remain indifferent in the face of violence towards another. We must take action; we must speak up; we must do something.

Today, Friday, June 5, is National Gun Violence Awareness Day, and the start of “wear orange weekend.” This year, we will be participating virtually by wearing orange and showing our commitment to working to end gun violence.

I encourage you to go to WearOrange.org for additional ideas, beyond wearing orange, for effecting change.

But this weekend we will take those words further. We know that we must break the silence as the blood of our black neighbors continues to be shed.

We all must come together and take a stand against the deadly mix of guns, white supremacy, and racism. Join us in supporting community groups working at the intersection of racial justice and gun violence prevention.

~Everytown for Gun Safety

We are sitting together at the intersection of these issues. Those whose lives have been most at risk need to know that we stand with them, that we are willing to work to end the great inequality and the great injustice that plagues this nation.

When we wear orange this weekend, we will do so to create greater awareness of the fact that unarmed black civilians are five times more likely to be shot and killed by police than unarmed white civilians.

When we wear orange this weekend, we will do so to create greater awareness of the fact that black Americans are 10 times more likely than white Americans to be murdered with a gun.

When we wear orange this weekend, we will do so to greater awareness of the fact that black men make up 52% of all gun homicide victims, despite comprising less than 7% of the U.S. population.

When we wear orange this weekend, we will stand, sit, speak, and lift up in solidarity.

In the midst of the upheaval in our country, we will pause together this Shabbat, not only to wear orange for national gun violence awareness, but to come together as a community to raise our voices for healing, hope, and solidarity. The protests that are coalescing around the U.S. began about one person ­­– they are also about the experience of black Americans. Whoever saves a single life, it is as if they have saved the entire world.

Our Torah teaches us that each human being was created B’tzelem Elohim — in the image of God, and therefore, the life of each and every person is sacred. The Torah does not speak of that image being white, or black, or brown, or yellow, or any one specific color. All human beings are created in God’s image, and the diversity of colors and hues represented in the color of one’s skin simply reflects the image and beauty of God.

Abraham Joshua Heschel addressed it 50 years ago in The Insecurity of Freedom:

“The way we act, the way we fail to act is a disgrace which must not go on forever. This is not a white man’s world. This is not a colored man’s world. It is God’s world. No man has a place in this world who tries to keep another man in his place. It is time for the white man to repent. We have failed to use the avenues open to us to educate the hearts and minds of men, to identify ourselves with those who are underprivileged. But repentance is more than contrition and remorse for sins, for harms done. Repentance means a new insight, a new spirit. It also means a course of action.”

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” Now is the time to do right.

Join us tonight, Friday, June 5, at 6:00 pm for a service of Healing, Hope, and Solidarity. You can join us on Zoom or watch our live stream.

We invite you to take a moment this Shabbat to wear orange. Take a picture of yourself and email it to communications@whctemple.org or post it in the comments on the blog on our Facebook page.