The Florida Legislature passed a bill today requiring that all public-school students be given a brief period to pause and reflect as they begin each school day. The State Senate’s approval of the Moment of Silence in Public Schools bill follows its passage in Florida’s House of Representatives on March 18. It will go into effect on July 1, 2021, after it is signed into law by Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis, a key supporter of the legislation.
During hearings in both Houses, proponents asserted that a Moment of Silence—currently mandated in 15 states and on the books in dozens more—can be effective in giving children an opportunity for introspection and contemplation in a chaotic world.
The Moment of Silence bill was sponsored in the House by Rep. Randy Fine (R-Palm Bay), and in the Senate by state Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala), and passed both Houses with overwhelming bipartisan support. The wheels were first set in motion after Baxley met in 2019 with Rabbi Shneur Zalman Oirechman—co-director with his wife, Chanie, of Chabad-Lubavitch of the Panhandle—at the Capitol building in Tallahassee. After meeting the rabbi, Baxley discussed the proposal with Rabbi Yossi Hecht, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Ocala, which Baxley represents, and resolved to sponsor a bill enshrining a Moment of Silence into law.
“In our busy lives,” Baxley previously said in a statement to Chabad.org, “we all know the tyranny of the urgent and anxious pace in which we live. It’s important for students to observe a moment of silence as they reflect and begin their day. In fact, this would be a good practice for all of us.”
Fine sees the bill as a non-denominational effort regardless of faith or background: “Every child will benefit from this time to be centered before the beginning of the day.”
Oirechman’s work on the bill was directly inspired by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, who was a long-time champion of moral education in schools, both public and private, noting that while schools must obviously teach basic general education, they have an imperative to imbue moral values in their students as well.
Beginning in 1983, the Rebbe spoke increasingly about the concept of a Moment of Silence in America’s schools in the face of rising crime rates and societal dysfunction across the nation.
“The Rebbe passionately encouraged a Moment of Silence in all public schools,” says Oirechman. “He spoke of how it will put society on a better path, by giving children the awareness of something greater than themselves.”
Read the full story: Florida Legislation Passes, Bringing a Moment of Silence to Public Schools