Judaism: A religion, a culture, a way of life.
Shooting: A way to end a life.
When people ask what Judaism means to me, I answer, “It is my religion, culture, way of life and most importantly, a way to express myself.”
The First Amendment of the Constitution states that we, as people of the United States, have the right of freedom of religion. This means that we have the right to practice religion in any way we choose, whether it’s Christianity, Catholicism, Islam or Judaism.
As a part of this right, we are allowed to practice our religions wherever we choose, whether it’s a church, synagogue or mosque. The right to freedom of religion allows us to have a voice.
However, when someone takes this right away from us, it is as if we do not have a voice.
This is what happened to the Jews. On Saturday, Oct. 28, the Jews lost their voice when a 46-year-old man shot and killed 11 people during a Shabbat morning service at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Jews, just like every other religion, are people too and have the same rights as everyone else.
Why should we be targeted because we do things a certain way? When does my right to pray in peace at my house of worship matter?
Growing up, I have always had a safe place to call my home: my synagogue. Throughout my life, I have gone to Hebrew school and have been involved in programs such as youth group. I have also had the privilege of attending and working at a Jewish summer camp in the Pocono Mountains. Both places have made me feel safe, welcome and free.
I want other Jewish children to be able to have the experience that I have had. Jews should have the right to pray in their synagogues without worrying about their lives being in danger.
Among the four firearms used by the Tree of Life shooter was an AR-15 rifle, one of the “most beloved and most vilified rifles,” according to a 2016 New York Times Op-Ed.
No civilian needs to own a gun like this. This was also the same gun that killed many students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglass school shooting. The fact that a civilian can own a gun like this and use it to murder innocent people disgusts me.
In an interview, Trump gave his opinion about the shooting. He blamed the Jews and said that if they had an armed guard, the situation would have been better. However, even if they did, the guard would have probably been killed too. Four police officers were shot also, and they knew what they were getting into.
We should not have to have an armed guard sitting at the front of the building to protect us.
We should not have to be afraid to show who we are. This event was absolutely unacceptable. Jews should be able to pray whenever and wherever they want to and feel safe. Together, we are one community.