By COLlive reporter
The Rabbinical Alliance of America — Igud HaRabonim, with a membership of over 950 Orthodox Rabbis across the United States and Canada — has called for the implementation of a mandatory “moment of silence” in American public schools “to instill values in our youth.”
A “Moment of Silence” is a brief period of reflection or meditation at the beginning of each school day. Since the mid-1980s, the idea has gained adherents in the U.S. and beyond as many schools, public and private, have begun to start their days with a moment of silence and reflection.
In 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court heard a case about an Alabama law allowing public school teachers to start each day with a moment of silence. Referencing the case, the Rebbe said it would raise awareness about the existence of a Supreme Being – “the authority behind our society’s most basic laws. A truly civilized society begins with giving children the opportunity to think about ‘an Eye that sees and Ear that hears’,” the Rebbe said.
Most recently, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, the leader of Chabad of Poway in California injured in a shooting attack at the synagogue, spoke about the need to hold during his remarks at the National Day of Prayer at the White House with President Donald Trump.
In a statement to COLlive.com, Rabbi Yehoshua S. Hecht, Presidium Chairman of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, wrote:
“The recent outrageous acts of violence visited upon the Chabad of Poway in California and the shootings in Charlotte, North Carolina and the STEM School right outside of Denver, Colorado serve as a clarion call for instituting a moment of silence in our public schools throughout these blessed United States of America.
“Our youth are being raised on a diet of violent video games and a social media that is replete with indiscriminate perversions that corrupt the healthy and wholesome moral and ethical development of our youth and teenagers.
“Many people in America today lack the basic fundamentals and values –that form a moral person’s outlook and conduct throughout their lives. Inaugurating a moment of silence in every public and private school at the beginning of the day will help to focus the attention of the young student on the importance of recognizing that our conduct must reflect the will and desire of the Creator and Master of the Universe.
“Each person, irrespective of his or her socio-economic background, faith community or ethnicity, race or creed, is responsible to answer to a Higher Power called G-d. A moment of silence will impress on each child and young adult that there is an “eye that sees and an ear that hears,” irrespective of one’s level of observance.
“As such, each person bears an ethical and moral responsibility to conduct themselves accordingly Experience and logic has shown that a humanistic approach to ethics and morals alone cannot educate a generation of well-adjusted citizens.
“Without the knowledge and awareness of a Creator, the temptation to act out at will with neither conscience and sense of responsibility contributes to the breakdown of civility and the increase of carnage and violence. A misplaced sense of entitlement leads misguided and disturbed people to harm others and to act out in a destructive and disruptive manner. A daily moment of silence and reflection has the power and the ability to help form the moral and ethical development of society and the individual.
“While recognizing the need for the separation of religion and state, this moment of silence will not condone or promulgate a particular set of religious beliefs but rather set the tone for the day for people of all backgrounds to reflect upon their responsibilities towards themselves and others in a more productive and proper way.
“The Rabbinical Alliance of America calls on the House of Representatives and the Senate, as well as the Department of Education, to implement a moment of silence in all of our public schools and institutions of learning to benefit our country and thus help protect our society from the scourge of violence within our schools and houses of worship.”