December 3, 2015
21 Kislev 5776
David Flaum, National Chairman, Board of Directors
Matthew Brooks, Executive Director
Dear Mr. Flaum and Mr. Brooks,
Today you will have an unprecedented opportunity to hear directly from all the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination and for them to answer your questions. It is a tribute to you, your organization, and to our entire community that all of the candidates will be there with you in person.
I am confident that we will learn a great deal about the candidates, and their views on many of the issues of concern to our community. I know you will ask them about the value of the U.S./Israel relationship, the horrific situation in Syria, the rise in violence in Israel, the global campaign against ISIS, and the danger of a nuclear Iran. It is critical that we hear the candidates clearly on those issues.
But, today, there is one other question which our community and all Americans needs to hear the candidates answer:
What specific steps do you support to end the epidemic of gun violence in America?
I ask this question today of all the Republican and Democratic candidates for president. At the same time, I urge President Obama to prioritize executive and legislative action to end gun violence in the U.S.
As you know, yesterday’s brutal slaughter of 14 people 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.
I hope we can all agree that steps must be taken – urgently – to make guns less accessible, especially to those who have already been identified as possible threats to public safety. How can it be that someone who is on the “no fly” list can, nevertheless, purchase weapons capable of the type of massacre we witnessed yesterday?
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.
Mr. Flaum, Mr. Brooks, today you have a tremendous opportunity to show all Americans that the Jewish community is committed to being part of a solution to the scourge of gun violence. I urge you as strongly as I can, please do not allow the candidates to appear today without telling us how they will stem this bloody tide.
Rabbi Rick Jacobs
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 adept and agile, 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 most powerful force in North American Jewish life, with almost 900 member congregations and work that inspires 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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