Sunday, September 21, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

We fall short in helping the mentally ill

By
From page A6 | January 17, 2013 |

By Leslie Y. Gutterman

My senior year at the University of Michigan began on a tragic note. Every college student of that time remembers where he was when President John Kennedy was shot, on Nov. 22, 1963.

John Kennedy had visited the campus three years before. My friend Richard Wishnetsky and I joined hundreds who had stayed up until 2 a.m., when Kennedy’s election-campaign motorcade finally arrived at the Michigan Union. Moved by the outpouring of support, the future president delivered spontaneous remarks before entering the building to spend the night. Kennedy challenged us to dedicate ourselves to global peace by living and working in developing nations. That proposal was the beginning of what would come to be known as the Peace Corps. It was a thrilling night. Richard and I had approached Kennedy’s car and shook his hand.

During the months leading to our graduation, in 1964, the two of us would occasionally have lunch. I knew no one more charming or brighter. Richard was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and awarded a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship.

All his friends would be shocked to learn that this young man so filled with promise would become severely mentally ill. On Feb. 12, 1966, on Lincoln’s birthday, Wishnetsky drove to the Detroit synagogue where he had worshipped and interrupted the service. Grabbing a microphone, he condemned hypocrisy. Turning to Rabbi Morris Adler, he removed a .32 caliber Colt revolver from his pocket and fired twice at the rabbi. Then he shot himself in the head.

Had he had an assault rifle in hand, the young assassin could have threatened 700 shocked worshippers, including his parents and sister. Richard Wishnetsky died four days later. The rabbi clung to life for three weeks before he died.

The theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel told a story of youngsters studying the biblical episode of Abraham taking his son to Mount Moriah preparing to sacrifice him. Miraculously, according to Scripture, an angel would appear to stay Abraham’s hand.

One child began weeping.

“Why are you crying?” asked the teacher. “Didn’t the angel come and wasn’t Isaac saved?” “Yes,” sobbed the youngster. “But what if the angel had been too late?”

Angels are never late, unlike human beings who often fail to speak the words that reassure and comfort. A few years ago, I visited a woman who told me she was dying. I remember what she said about her children, “You know, there were times when my son and daughter strayed from the path I would have chosen for them. They gave me more than a little pain. But I never gave up believing in them. I had faith that somehow they would come through and they have. I am very pleased with them.”

I asked, “Have you told them what you just told me?”

And she replied, “Well, not in so many words.”

I told her, “Tonight when they come to see you, let them know. You can’t imagine what a blessing you have the power to bestow.”

Angels are never too late, unlike human beings who often refuse to perform the deeds that can save lives. We mortals will someday lessen the toll of 2,800 children and teenagers killed by guns every year. It will be too late to save those small Newtown innocents.

We may eventually reverse the trend of cutting millions from states’ mental-health budgets. We may be able to help more despairing young men such as Richard Wishnetsky by restoring the number of the psychiatric beds that have been eliminated. It will be too late to save the more than the 10,000 killed by guns in the past year. Because we have not put into place the same reasonable restrictions on firearms that we do on cars, food and medicines, every two months more Americans die by gun violence than those who perished on 9/11.

But is never too late to put limits on some so that all can be safer. As Martin Luther King Jr. reminded the nation, “It is always the right time to do the right thing.”

— Leslie Y. Gutterman is senior rabbi of Temple Beth-el in Providence, R.I.

Comments

comments

Scripps Howard News Service

.

News

Elementary school counselors: necessary, but poorly funded

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Bet Haverim hosts High Holy Day services

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

 
Teams assess damage as wildfire burns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
Driver arrested for DUI after Saturday morning crash

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Help raise funds for juvenile diabetes cure

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Jewelry, art for sale at Senior Center

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Davis Community Meals needs cooks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Da Vinci awarded $38,000 for restorative justice program

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

 
Hawk Hill trip planned Sept. 30

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

UC campus chancellors granted hefty pay raises

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Send kids to camp!

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Outdoor yoga marathon celebrates community

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Wise words

By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A12

 
.

Forum

Awareness is key to this fight

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Where is this going?

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A6

We’re living in the Golden State of emergency

By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A6

 
Options for protection come with flu season

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Are we there yet? Not enough hours in the day to goof off

By Tanya Perez | From Page: A6Comments are off for this post

 
Don’t sell city greenbelt

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Paso Fino project is flawed

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Paso Fino — it’s not worth it

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Archer will get my vote

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
It’s time for Davis Scouts to stand up for what is right

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

Mike Keefe cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

 
Building something at schools’ HQ

By Our View | From Page: A10

Speak out

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Maybe David can beat Goliath again

By Lynne Nittler | From Page: A11 | Gallery

.

Sports

DHS gets on its Morse to beat Edison

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
JV Blue Devils drop low-scoring affair

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B2

 
Republic FC’s fairy tale season continues

By Evan Ream | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Wire briefs: Giants rally falls short in San Diego

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Four local swimmers qualify for Olympic Trials

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

‘We’re a way better team’ than record, says UCD’s Shaffer

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B4 | Gallery

 
UCD roundup: Aggie men pound Pomona-Pitzer in the pool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4

Davis 15-year-old making a splash in European F4 series

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
.

Features

.

Arts

‘Ladies Foursome’ adds shows

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
.

Business

MBI hires VP of marketing

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
UCD grad’s startup earns kudos at TechCrunch event

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

Styles on target for November debut

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A7

 
Taylor Morrison unveils new Woodland community next weekend

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Rob White: What is an ‘innovation center’?

By Rob White | From Page: A9

 
.

Obituaries

Carol L. Walsh

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, September 21, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B8