NEW YORK – Early Sunday, a terrorist stormed a crowded nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and went on a shooting rampage, which left 49 people dead and 53 wounded— the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. In response to this weekend’s mass shooting, the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association for Conservative/Masorti rabbis, released the following statement:
We share our deepest sympathies and prayers with the families of those who lost their lives and were injured in the Orlando shooting. May their memories be a blessing for all who knew them. But prayer alone will not resolve the circumstances that made this tragedy possible and so we also issue a strong call for action.
This shooting rampage targeted the LGBT community in the midst of Pride month, a time where the LGBT community comes together to publicly acknowledge and celebrate their identities, their common history, and their struggle for social recognition and equality. The RA has passed multiple resolutions calling on the community to ‘work for full and equal civil rights for gays and lesbians in our national life, deplore violence against gays and lesbians, encourage inclusion of gay and lesbian Jews in our congregations, and increase our awareness of issues facing gay and lesbian Jews.’ We know that we stand with people of good will of all faiths in continuing this work.
We urge the United States Congress and the President of the United States to take meaningful steps toward ending this horrifying violence in our communities by passing common-sense gun legislation. As recently as our May 2016 convention, the Rabbinical Assembly issued a resolution encouraging our members to lobby local, state and federal lawmakers to support required background checks on all public and private gun sales, bans on military style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and legislation making gun trafficking a federal crime with severe penalties.
As our Jewish tradition teaches us,lo ta'amod al dam re'eikha — do not stand idly by the blood of your neighbor (Leviticus 19:16). Our thoughts and prayers go out to all members of the LGBT community, their families, their friends and their loved ones.
Here are some other pieces that our colleagues have contributed:
Remarks given at gathering of religious leaders in downtown Orlando by Rabbi Rick Sherwin, Congregation Beth Am, Longwood, FL
Prayer is not enough by Rabbi Danielle Upbin, Congregation Beth Shalom, Clearwater, FL
A Powerful Letter from an Orlando Mom & Rabbi About the Orlando Shooting by Rabbi Sharon Barr Skolnik, Orlando, FL