by Ian Reingold
I learned a lot of things this winter in Washington, D.C. on the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) trip. I learned that if you want to get a bill or a new law passed, you had better be passionate about your idea, be able to discuss your idea and not quit trying to get your idea into law. In other words, you have to do it yourself. We were taught, through various activities, the process and the time it takes to get a new bill into law. While we were on the trip, there were other Reform Jewish teens there being taught the same lesson.
The most interesting part of the exercises was the fact that my group was given a topic, Gun Control Laws, and we had to come up with our ideas on changes incorporating our Jewish values. I never thought about bringing Jewish value into my argument of gun control law changes. Then I thought about it and I remembered my Hebrew school lessons, reading the Torah and listening to numerous rabbi speeches. The one argument my group kept coming up with is, “Thou shalt not murder” and “He who takes one life it is as though he has destroyed the universe and he who saves one life it is as though he has saved the universe.” Therefore, with tougher gun control laws, we can stop the unnecessary killing of innocent people.
We discussed our idea of fixing gun control laws with other groups at the RAC trip. Finally, we met with one of Frank Pallone Jr.’s staff members to gain an understanding of what it takes to get a bill onto the House of Representatives agenda and maybe passed into law. During our meeting, we were able to voice our opinion on various topics giving the staff member our ideas to hopefully pass onto Frank Pallone Jr. to maybe get changes made to laws. We hope that our ideas go into the House and have an effect on a law we want enacted.
We learned over the winter at the RAC trip that there is always a Jewish value for each law. Out of this whole essay I read to you, you should take away the idea that “Thou shalt not murder,” and “He who takes one life it is as though he has destroyed the universe and he who saves one life it is as though he has saved the universe.”