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Today, the Republican Jewish Coalition is hosting a presidential candidates forum in Washington, D.C., at which all 14 Republican presidential candidates will address attendees about critical issues facing the U.S. It is a tribute to the organization and the entire Jewish community that all of the candidates will be there with in person.
This is an unprecedented opportunity for members of the Jewish community to hear directly from all the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination and for them to answer questions from the RJC. In the wake of yesterday’s brutal slaughter of 14 people in San Bernardino, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, sent a letter to Matthew Brooks, executive director of the RJC, and David Flaum, national chairman of its board of directors, encouraging them to ask of every candidate: “What specific steps do you support to end the epidemic of gun violence in America?”
Rabbi Jacobs writes that the shooting in San Bernardino is, “to our great national shame, only the latest mass shooting. There is certainly room for disagreement about the best way to end gun violence. But I hope we can all agree that there is no room for disagreement that the status quo is flatly unacceptable.” Read the full text of his letter to the RJC.
At the same time, Rabbi Jacobs sent a similar letter directly to all candidates of both parties and, in partnership with NFTY President Jerremy Cronig, sent a letter to President Obama, too, urging him to prioritize executive and legislative action to put an end to gun violence in the U.S.
Is this an appropriate issue for the American Jewish community? If we are serious about our commitment to live our lives with the belief that all people were created in the Divine image, if we believe that the spark of the Divine glows in every single person, and if we accept our tradition’s teaching that “one who saves one life it is as though they have saved the world,” how can the horrific carnage we are seeing on a daily basis be allowed to continue?