Photo Credit: screenshot
Yeshiva Toras Chaim in Denver, where Shmuel Silverberg, 18, was shot and killed.

It’s hard not to become a bit jaded upon hearing so many reports of sad news. There is so much of it these days that it sometimes seems like there is no end to them. My feelings have become inured to news like that. I suppose the human psyche protects us from utter despair by creating a mental block to our natural feelings and emotions.

And yet there are days when those emotions are reawakened. Yesterday was one of those days for me. From VIN:

In a tragic incident which occurred outside the Denver Yeshiva, a 19-year-old yeshiva student was shot and killed early Wednesday morning.

The victim (Shmuel Silverberg) was standing in front of the dormitories of Yeshiva Toras Chaim at 1555 Stuart Street, Denver when a vehicle pulled up and an assailant opened fire from inside, striking and killing the young man. The vehicle fled the scene and the man was rushed to hospital where he died of his injuries.


When I heard the news my heart sank and I started tearing.  I cannot imagine what it’s like for a parent to drop off a son at a yeshiva to begin his year of study – only to hear of his being murdered shortly after.

Most Orthodox Jewish parents can surely identify with a parent dropping a child off at a religious school.  We all do – or have done that. I doubt there is a single parent that ever feared anything remotely like a drive-by shooting would ever happen to their child.

To the extent that we have any problems they mostly amount to (among other things) high tuition expenses, educational standards (both religious and secular), the school’s Hashkafos, or a possible negative social environment their child might be experiencing. (Like being bullied by fellow classmates.)

NEVER in a million years does a parent think their child will be shot and killed in a religious school environment. A thought like that never enters the mind. I am not blaming the school. It is absolutely not their fault. I am merely talking about what a parent normally expects regarding their child’s school – and what happened here.

After calming down a bit at this shocking news, my sadness turned to anger. Because what needs to be done to help prevent these kind of thing from ever happening again – is simply not being done. Instead the opposite is happening. Which means the chances of something like this happening again (God forbid) are increasing.

In my view, there are 2 specific things that should be done that will reduce if not eliminate it.

One of those things is to get rid of the guns. I am not a fan of the second amendment and have said before that I think it should be repealed.  In my view, unless you are in the military or law enforcement you should not be able to purchase a gun anywhere.  Anyone caught selling a gun should be placed in jail. Anyone owning a gun should be heavily fined and the gun confiscated. Anyone caught committing a crime with a gun gets an automatic 10 year prison sentence. And if anyone is killed by a gun during such a crime, they should get life without the possibility of parole in a maximum security prison.

At the very least we need to end ‘revolving door justice’ where criminals committing crimes with guns are set free after a short time in prison. Or with a suspended sentence for ‘first timers’. Or allowing known gang members suspected of violent crimes to go free without bail before a trial on their own recognizance. That is an open invitation to keep the murders going. And treating the murderers with relative impunity. We may not put an end to gun violence that way. But we will put a serious dent in it.

The other thing we must do is make law and order a top priority. The police should be given a lot more freedom to pursue criminal suspects than they have now. Along those lines, If we have  a successful policy of reducing crime we ought not eliminate it for reasons of political correctness.

For example the ‘stop and frisk’ policy that existed in New York reduced violent crime significantly. There is no disagreement about that. But the court has ruled that this policy was racist in that it was used primarily against black people. ‘Stop and frisk’ was subsequently declared illegal.  Crime stopped declining and has since increased.

Please do not misunderstand. There is no excuse for racism in any context. To the extent that ‘stop and frisk’ was misapplied that way should have been stopped. Any cop found guilty of it should be severely disciplined or even fired. But you don’t throw away a policy that works (and probably saved lives). You fix it instead.

Instead of a policy where the hand of law enforcement has been enhanced, the opposite has happened. The police are afraid of doing anything right now that might be interpreted as racist.

I understand why we have reached this nadir in law enforcement. There have been too many instances where racism (whether conscious or subconscious) was a key factor in an innocent black man being killed or hurt. That allowed extreme leftists to promote their anti establishment agenda that blames everything bad in this country on what they claim is the inherent racism of ‘white privilege’ upon which they say this country was built.

It was a black man killed by a cop that moved the city council of a major American city – Minneapolis – to defund their police. That was a victory for crime. Police are now seen as the problem rather than the solution.

The fact is, though, that police ARE the solution. At least a major part of it. To the extent that there is racism in their ranks – it should be routed out! But at the same time they should be given more power to enforce the law. Not less power.

If we get rid of the guns, strengthen law enforcement by giving them the tools to fight crime, and end the revolving door justice taking place now in a misguided attempt to fight racism, we might have a chance at never seeing something like a drive by shooting again.

I realize that these two suggestions come from opposite sides of the political spectrum – the first a liberal perspective and the second a conservative perspective. But it doesn’t matter. What matters to me justice. And application of these 2 suggestions will go a long way towards achieving that.


{Reposted from the author’s blog}

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Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at [email protected].