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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.