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Statement on El Paso and Dayton Attacks

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Reconstructing Judaism and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association mourn the devastating loss of life this weekend in the mass shooting in Dayton, Ohio and in the terrorist attack in El Paso, Texas. We send our deepest condolences and wishes of refu’ah shlaymah — full and complete healing — to all who were affected by these attacks.

As our hearts are broken again and again by the images and stories of unjustifiable loss of innocent life, the words of the psalmist ring bitterly familiar: “ad matai - how long will this go on?! … How long will you feed your people tears as their daily bread, making them drink great measures of tears?” (Psalm 80:4-5).  

As hard as it is to witness these disturbingly familiar patterns of violence, our work of transformation begins with witnessing the suffering and decrying the plagues of violence, racism, white supremacy and hatred that grow ever stronger around us. We offer you the spiritual support of two prayers from Ritualwell: “How to Pray While the World Burns,” by Hila Ratzabi and, “Mourners Kaddish after a Mass Murder” by Heather Paul. We hope they will help facilitate an opening, cathartic moment in difficult times. 

We recognize and condemn the white nationalist ideology that the El Paso terrorist embraced – a toxic belief system that, among myriad evils, demonizes non-white immigrants and, in this case and others, has led to unspeakable violence.  

We repeat the message we declared after the Tree of Life Synagogue Massacre in Pittsburgh in October 2018 because it is, if anything, even more relevant today: 

The white nationalist movement has found encouragement in the language and messages that have been coming from the White House, and as the rabbinic tradition teaches very clearly, words are weapons and they have the power to destroy. We ask people of all political parties to call upon the Trump Administration to stop modeling the language of otherizing people, the language of “us vs. them,” the language of ridicule and mob anger. One can hold conservative, moderate or progressive views without engaging in any of these damaging and inciting uses of language in the public square. Indeed, the future of America’s viability as a healthy democracy depends upon it. 

While raising our voices in prayer and condolences for the victims of this latest mass-shooting, we also raise our voices to call for the enactment and enforcement of reasonable gun laws throughout this country that would help prevent such tragedies. 

There have been 251 mass shootings already in 2019Ad matai? How long will this go on? May all who have died be held in God’s love. May all who mourn be held in God’s infinite compassion and healing light. May all who are wounded be blessed with a speedy healing. And may the One who created us all lead us to be better than this.

Response to Parkland, Florida Shooting

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The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and Reconstructing Judaism express horror at the violent shooting in Parkland, Florida that has taken the lives of 17 individuals and injured many more. We mourn with those who lost loved ones and offer our prayers for speedy and full healing to the injured.

Our tradition calls on us to not stand idly by the blood of our neighbors (Lev. 19:16) and demands that we not become inured to these horrific acts of violence. As our teacher Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, “…morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”

While raising our voices in prayer and condolences for the victims of violence, we also raise our voices to call for the enactment and enforcement of reasonable gun laws throughout this country that would prevent such tragedies.

This shooting in Parkland is the 18th school shooting and 30th mass shooting in the United States since January 1, 2018. There were 346 mass shootings in 2017 – almost one per day. No other country in the world tolerates this level of slaughter of young people at the hands of heavily armed shooters. Sandy Hook. Orlando. Las Vegas. Sutherland Springs and now Parkland, are all communities shattered by losses that we know could have been prevented.

We continue to call for a ban on “bump-stock” and high-capacity magazines, increased background checks and waiting periods and an end to limits on the tracking and research of gun violence as a public health issue. These and other common-sense changes are supported by most Americans and must be enacted as a matter of life and death.

We call upon our elected leaders and politicians to act now so that the next mass slaughter is not inevitable.

Statement on Las Vegas Shooting

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The Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College/Jewish Reconstructionist Communities express horror at the violent shooting in Las Vegas that so far has ended 58 human lives and injured hundreds more.  We mourn with those who lost loved ones and offer our prayers for speedy and full healing to the injured. 

Our tradition calls on us to not stand idly by the blood of our neighbors (Lev. 19:16) and demands that we not engage in the complicity of silence—in the words of Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra’s commentary, “that one not be joined with people of blood.” While raising our voices in prayer and condolences for the victims of last night’s violence, we also raise our voices to call for the enactment and enforcement of reasonable and effective gun laws throughout this country, including opposing pending legislation in the US Congress that would loosen, rather than tighten, restrictions on dangerous firearms.

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