February 26, 2018 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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Sydney’s North Shore Temple Emanuel Synagogue had a special lesson for Barmitzvah boy N following the Parkland killings.

In her sermon last Saturday she said:

Rabbi Nicole Roberts

“Each year at this time, we tell the story of the Megillah and encourage our children to make a lot of noise, specifically when hearing the name of the wicked Haman.  This year I’ve begun to understand this practice as just that: practice.  When we encourage our kids to drown out memory of the wicked with their noise, we’re actually asking them to practice for something much more serious than a Purim shpiel…

Last Friday night, I spoke from the bimah about the Florida high school shooting.  I was angry and despairing that yet again, nothing would get done by lawmakers to address America’s gun violence.  I’ve spent much time this week reading reports from my rabbinic colleagues on the ground in Florida, who waited with the families for news while the event unfolded, then helped those families pick up the pieces of their shredded lives, conducting funerals, visiting hospitals, and supporting friends and classmates of the victims.  It’s been a dark, dark week.

Amid all this darkness, there was only one thing that gave me a shred of hope about the situation: the noise of children.

The surviving teenagers are taking matters into their own hands, and they are making noise.  Other teens are joining in their movement, called #NeverAgain, because they see that the adults in America have failed the children of America.  They see that the politicians and lawmakers have failed to protect them.  They see that even concerned citizens haven’t been able to keep the volume up enough on their outrage to blot out the risk of yet another Amalek rising up and destroying the most vulnerable members of American society—our schoolchildren.  Our children see what’s going on, and they’re bursting with anger and determination—marching on Washington, marching out of classes, and marching into the offices of elected officials to share their stories.  As teenagers, believe me, they know how to organise, they are inherently passionate, and as every parent knows, they are, by their very teenage nature, unrelenting champions of justice and righteousness.  Our greatest hope in the battle for gun control lies in the noise of our children.

N, the timing of your becoming bar mitzvah feels so fitting, here on Shabbat Zachor, as we prepare to read the Megillah this week, and as the teenage #NeverAgain movement finds its voice.  I know you are also trying to find your voice, but I feel confident that yours will one day speak out for righteousness and for compassion, wherever you see the need to blot out injustice in the world around you.  You are a deeply empathetic person, who can’t stand to see others in pain.  So my charge and prayer for you, N, on this day of your bar mitzvah celebration, as you begin to find your voice as a Jewish adult, is that you’ll use your voice to make the best kind of noise: blotting out the villains of your era, whoever they prove to be, and helping the most vulnerable people in our society.  Use your voice to protest against wrong.  Use it to offer comfort and consolation to those who are suffering.  Use it to stand up for those who are voiceless, and for victims of violence who may never speak again.

N, may you never doubt your ability to make a blessed noise, and to make a difference.  Practice every Purim.  And on this Shabbat Zachor, may you pledge to remember that even though a villain rises up in every generation, so do a new generation of noisemakers who can drown him out.  May you take your place among them, and help bring about a safer world.”


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