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New York, NY, August 3, 2019 – Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Rick Jacobs released the following statement in response to the fatal shooting in El Paso, Texas that left at least 20 people dead and dozens more injured:
Today our nation grieves for the at least 20 people slaughtered in El Paso by a 21-year-old gunman. Just a few days ago, I returned from El Paso where I joined Rev. Dr. William J. Barber and hundreds of faith leaders for Moral Monday at the Borderlands to protest the inhumane treatment of asylum seekers. We went because the hearts of so many in our nation ache for the suffering of those families and individuals seeking safety and security in America who are imprisoned on their arrival, including so many children, in conditions that are anathema to the values of our nation.
Now our hearts turn again to El Paso, in the face of this slaughter of innocents by a gunman who authorities say was inspired by anti-immigrant rhetoric. There are also reports that he may have written a racist manifesto pouring out hate in the form of white supremacy. El Paso sits right on the border with Juarez, Mexico. The shopping center that was attacked serves people from El Paso and Juarez.
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.’
But 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 common sense gun laws.
And if we are to call on the leaders of our nation to address this epidemic of hate, a goal that, hopefully, almost all Americans cherish, we must ask: When will this president stop demonizing asylum seekers and immigrants, which serves to embolden those like today’s shooter?
About the Union for Reform Judaism
The Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) builds community at every level—from the way we collaborate with congregations, organizations, and individuals to how we make connections across North America to advance contemporary and inclusive Jewish life. Providing vision and voice to transform the way people connect to Judaism, we help congregations stay relevant and innovative, motivate more young Jews to embrace Jewish living, agitate for a more progressive society, and foster meaningful connections to Israel.
Founded in 1873, URJ has grown into the largest and most powerful force in North American Jewish life, with nearly 900 member congregations and work that inspires, connects, and educates millions of people. Our legacy, reach, leadership, and vision mean that we can unite thousands of years of tradition with a modern, evolving Judaism to strengthen Jewish communities today and for future generations.
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