By COLlive reporter
Public school students in the state of Florida may soon be required to take between a one to two minute “moment of silence” to start off each school day, under legislation that cleared the Education Committee of the Florida Senate on Monday.
For several years schools have allowed teachers the option of giving students two minutes for silent reflection before the start of the day. But Senator Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, wants to change that to a daily requirement.
“I think it’s a very simple idea brought to me by some very special friends,” Baxley told the committee.
Baxley was referring to a group of Shluchim, led by Rabbi Schneur Z. Oirechman, Chabad Shliach in Florida’s State Capitol, who has been working for months on getting Florida lawmakers to sponsor a bill mandating a Moment of Silence in the state.
The bill (SB 946) was approved on Monday, 6-1 by the panel. Similar legislation (HB 737) in the House, filed by Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Kimberly Daniels, is still awaiting its first hearing.
“There’s a lot of darkness in our world today… this will bring a lot of light into children, into the school,” Oierechman said.
Rabbi Oirechman was galvanized into action after the shooting at Chabad of Poway in California last Pesach.
“Since the Poway attack, I have been working with a group of Shluchim to get a law passed for a Moment of Silence in Florida,” Rabbi Oirechman told COLlive. “We all know how important this was to the Rebbe. We are looking for patrons to join our mission, who can help sponsor the work to make sure the Rebbe’s urgent call becomes a reality.”
On multiple occasions, the Rebbe urgently called for a daily “Moment of Silence” in U.S. public schools, where most American children receive their education.
The Rebbe articulated his position with great urgency, all but warning that if the current path of education continues without incorporating a Moment of Silence, calamity is bound to come.
“This was my dream for a long time, to give this as a gift to the Rebbe for yud aleph Nissan,” Rabbi Oirechman said. “After the Poway shooting, I visited the Rebbe’s Ohel, and at that time I committed to the Rebbe to get it done.”
The vaad of Shluchim working on the project also includes Rabbis Yoel Caroline, Mendy Weiss, Yossi Hecht, Shlomo Litvin, and Binyamin Murray. They also received support and assistance from Rabbi Avraham Frank, longtime advocate of the Moment of Silence campaign.
Through the work of Rabbi Yossi Hecht of Ocala, FL, and Rabbi Oirechman, Senator Baxley and Rep. Daniels are sponsoring the bill which would make a Moment of Silence a law in Florida public schools.
“We are so grateful to Senator Dennis Baxley and his assistant Debbie Dennis, for all their assistance,” Rabbi Oirechman said.
The bill now will be put up for a vote in the judiciary committee and will then be presented to the Senate for approval. If the bill becomes law the silent reflection period would start during the 2020 school year.
To partner in this campaign so important to the Rebbe, email [email protected] .