Deadly Attack Against Rep. Giffords and Others Leaves Reform Movement Pained
Rabbi Saperstein: "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, a remarkable public servant shot while meeting with constituents today."
D.C. January 8, 2011 -- In response today's attack against
Representative Gabrielle Giffords, her staff, and residents at a
constituent event in Tucson, Arizona, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director
of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Rep.
Gabrielle Giffords, a remarkable public servant shot while meeting with
constituents today. Rep. Giffords is a member of Reform Congregation
Chaverim in Tucson, and our entire community shares her family's concern
We send our condolences to the families of those killed
in this horrible act of violence, including U.S. District Judge John
Roll, and pray for those who were wounded. As dark a day as this is for
our nation, we know that it is immeasurably more painful for those whose
family members were killed or injured.
We have had a close and
fruitful relationship with Rep. Giffords and her staff throughout her
time in Congress. She is a leading advocate for sensible immigration
reform, a strong and thoughtful voice on the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, and is willing to cast difficult votes on issues she
believes in, including health care reform. (It was her support for
health care reform, which led to an earlier attack on her office in
We do not yet know the specific motive behind this
despicable act. But there can be no ignoring the increasing culture of
violence in our nation and particularly in our political discourse.
Dehumanizing language and images of violence are regularly used to
express differences of opinion on political issues. Such language is too
often heard by others, including those who may be mentally ill or
ideologically extreme, to justify the actual use of violence. It
continues to be far too easy to acquire guns, including the weapon used
in today's shootings. Americans must be able to have robust and healthy
differences of opinion while respecting the humanity and patriotism of
those with whom they disagree.
We, together with so many others,
have supported and developed programs to address the disintegration of
our political culture. As we can see from today's bloodshed, to call for
"civility," only begins to scratch the surface of what is needed. We
are committed to working with America's religious leaders of all faiths,
and others, to elevate aggressively the state of our political
But today, of course, we stand stunned and deeply
saddened. And we pray that Rep. Giffords' husband Mark and her entire
family find support comfort and strength among their friends and family,
as we join them in praying for her full recovery.