Tikkun Olam: Disaster Information

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A Renewed Jewish Call to End Gun Violence – and What You Can Do

Two young women holding signs protesting gun violence

I will not mince words: the violence we witnessed this weekend is sickening. Twenty-nine people were killed in separate mass shootings in El Paso, TX and Dayton, OH – not to mention the 47 injured and four killed by guns in Chicago, and the countless more who didn’t make headlines across the United States.

Just hours afer the shooting in El Paso, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaismoffered these words of comfort:

Clergy colleagues throughout El Paso will faithfully and lovingly hold up the families of the slain and wounded. So too our hearts – indeed the hearts and prayers of all people of good conscience across the nation – are with those families. In the words of Psalm 147:3 we pray, ‘May the Holy One heal their broken hearts and bind up their wounds.’ 

He followed with a call to conscience:

There is also a righteous rage that wells up in the hearts of so many of us as we call on responsible leaders of our nation to act decisively to address the growing epidemic of hate that too often is manifested in America’s plague of mass shootings. It is not enough for elected officials to muster their ‘thoughts and prayers.’ Like millions of Americans I’m sick of the pathetic excuses offered by too many lawmakers for not passing strong and effective commonsense gun laws.

How You Can Act to End Gun Violence – Right Now

As Reform Jews, we’re sick of avoidance and inaction on commonsense gun violence prevention legislation – so we’re demanding that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell save lives by calling a special session of the US Senate to vote on the Background Check Expansion Act.

The House of Representatives passed their own version of this bill in February. Because Senator McConnell has not called a vote in the Senate, this imperative and potentially life-saving legislation is collecting dust. We can change that.

Join me in ensuring the period of “thoughts and prayers” without action is over – that instead, we prioritize real, lasting change to keep our communities safe. Act now by writing to Senator McConnell using our easy action alert tool.

Resources for Coping After Gun Violence

We know, too, that after each shooting, our communities struggle to balance mourning with action, grief with a passion for justice. Even as you take action by writing to Sen. McConnell, we share “Jewish Resources for Coping with Acts of Terror,” an ongoing list of evergreen resources to be used in the wake of tragedy. It includes resources for parents and educators, resources for prayer, and resources for action, and it will continue to be updated on an ongoing basis, following these incidents and and others.

We share, too, the Mourner’s Kaddish, the ancient prayer has been on the lips of Jewish mourners around the world for centuries. We join with those who grieve the deaths of their loved ones whose lives were cut short all too soon by senseless acts of gun violence – and we not only pray for justice, but we commit to actively working for it.

Ken yehi ratzon – may this be God’s will.

P.S. This will continue to be a hard battle, and we’re in it for the long haul. If you are with us in the fight to end gun violence, consider donating to ensure we can continue this work for as long as it takes to stem the tide of senseless gun violence in the United States.

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner represents the Reform Movement to Congress and the administration as the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. He also serves as the senior vice president of the Union for Reform Judaism. Named one of the most influential rabbis in America, he has been an inspirational leader, creative entrepreneur, and tireless advocate for social justice.

Volunteer Opportunities:

All Hands Volunteers

All Hands Volunteers began in the wake of the Tsunami of 2004, grew in response to Hurricane Katrina and is now a volunteer organization based in Massachusetts and the U.K., deploying volunteers to help with relief, recovery and rebuilding

Nechama

NECHAMA is a voluntary organization that provides natural disaster preparedness, response, and recovery services nationwide. You may make a donation or volunteer.

*Volunteer opportunities will be announced and coordinated with local groups such as Jewish Family Service, or other organizations with volunteer needs.