Rabbi Cahana’s comments at the candlelight vigil for the victims of the shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon

October 1, 2015

Thank you, Mayor Charlie Hales, for gathering us together on this sad day.

My friends, the mayor has charged us, we faith leaders from across the religious spectrum, to help us all understand what has happened today. I have to extend my apologies to you, Mayor Hales. I cannot. Because I do not understand. I cannot comprehend. Like so many of us here, I am lost.

Normally, I would join my respected colleges here in crying out to G-d. Like the Psalmists I would lament: Meema’amakeem k’rateecha Adonai – Out of the depths I call to you, Oh God! (Ps 130:1). But tonight, God is busy. Comforting the bereaved, supporting the injured. And if we are doing God’s work, we are doing the same.

But at the same time as we would cry out to God, God is crying out to us. For it is not God who allowed this tragedy to happen. We did. Why weep to me? Where are YOU? Why do you not take care of the mentally ill sufficiently? Why do you allow your streets to be flooded with weapons of mass destruction? Where are you? – God calls out.

And where are we? We are silent.

This is a beautiful and meaningful gathering, and I thank our mayor for arranging it. But there have been far too many candlelight vigils for mass shootings of our children and other innocents. We know there must be a tipping point; a time when we decide as a society that this is not normal. This is not acceptable. This is not allowed. A time when we will not be paralyzed into inaction. Let this that time! Let this be the last vigil.

We need more than prayer tonight. We need action.

For the sake of the murdered, may we commit ourselves tonight to the hard work ahead. And let us and our children live in peace.