Dear Mrs. Obama,

I have admired you from afar since your husband emerged on the national stage. Now, in the wake of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, I must challenge you to action.

Along with citizens--especially parents--throughout our nation and beyond, I am anguished at the death of the beautiful, innocent children of Sandy Hook School. I was deeply heartened by the sight of the President, a man of such dignity and reserve, moved to tears in contemplating the unspeakable tragedy we have witnessed.

Your husband was precisely right that the first days after the murders belong to the mourners, and must be filled with prayer and acts of love and kindness. But before long we all need to move into action. Many people will urge the President to fulfill his promise to undertake "meaningful action" toward "commonsense" gun control.

I am writing because I see a key role for you to play. The President and his allies will need to demonstrate a groundswell of support from the American people. We need a grassroots national campaign on a massive scale. I have begun to work in my own circle of influence, as a rabbi, among Jewish community leaders. We will need a broad multi-faith coalition of religious leaders supporting life-affirming gun control policies for our country. But we will also need organizations of parents, of grandparents, of mental health professionals, of educators, of health care professionals, of police officers, of veterans, and many others, to raise their voices to stop the carnage.

For far too long the loudest voices on this subject belonged to those who oppose sensible gun control. Such people are Americans, just as you and I are, and we must respect their views. But we neglect our responsibilities as citizens when we fail to make our voices heard.

Why am I writing to you? Because this massive campaign needs a face - a compelling, galvanizing leader. You are the best known, best loved, and most respected mother in America. You are obviously a person of boundless personal and professional gifts, and you have devoted your first four years in the White House to issues related to children's health.

I challenge you to step up and make gun control your issue. Make this your signature campaign. Commit to using the tremendous social capital you command to convene the far-ranging coalition that is needed to support your husband and Congressional leaders in doing the needed policy work.

Mrs. Obama, we need your leadership. Will you help?

Praying for comfort for all the bereaved families,
and wishing you strength, courage and determination for this role,
Rabbi Amy Eilberg
St. Paul, MN
(formerly posted at Huffington Post) 

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