Schools Are Sanctuaries

Thu, 02/15/2018 - 5:36pm -- Rabbi Weill

V’asu li mikdash v’shachanti b’tocham
Build for Me a Holy Place and I will dwell among them (Exodus 25: 8).


Thus says G-d to Moses in Terumah, this week’s Torah portion. In this context, “mikdash” refers to the sanctuary the Israelites carried through the desert. But in common parlance, “Mikdash” refers to the Holy Temple King Solomon built centuries later.

King David, the warrior, wished he could build the Temple, but G-d said no. The Mikdash, teach our commentators, must be a place of peace, a true sanctuary; it ought not be constructed by a man of war.

With sorrow and fury we learned this week of yet another school shooting by a man with a semi-automatic weapon. Schools should be sanctuaries!  We kiss our children good-bye each morning and send them to schools to learn, socialize, and come a little closer to finding their place in the world. And yet schools have become targets. This week’s rampage is the eighteenth school shooting this year – and it’s only mid-February!

Meanwhile, actual sanctuaries – churches, mosques, synagogues – are also targets. Ad matai? How long will this continue?

We must do more than read the news, sigh, and move on. We must rather absorb the pain and then act.  Do not be resigned to chronic violence in our society. Check out Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence at See also, the website of the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. Please also follow this link to see the Niles Township Clergy Forum’s Statement on Gun Violence, released after the Las Vegas shooting.

The scourge of gun violence has gone too far. It has penetrated sanctuaries. Expect better of our nation.

Rabbi Jeffrey Weill