Following the July 4th parade shooting in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park, Illinois, resulting in six deaths and dozens of injuries, as well as multiple deadly incidents of gun violence in other cities throughout the holiday weekend, the Rabbinical Assembly (RA), the international association for Conservative/Masorti rabbis, issued the following statement:
“We are deeply disturbed by the mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, that twisted what was meant to be a day of celebration across the United States into one of pure terror for hundreds of residents and their families. We have been in touch with our colleagues in the area and are closely monitoring emerging details. Among the victims already identified are a beloved grandfather as well as a life-long congregant and staffer of North Shore Congregation Israel, a nearby Reform synagogue.
“Our hearts ache for the lives cut short by gun violence and we despair that U.S. government leaders have not reacted decisively enough to prevent these tragedies from becoming commonplace. As we have said all too often – and again, far too recently – we offer our deepest condolences and support to all those impacted by this despicable attack and reiterate our vehement condemnation of gun violence. As Jewish tradition reminds us, ‘An act of violence is an act of desecration.’ (Abraham Joshua Heschel, Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity, p. 85)
“The Rabbinical Assembly has spoken out repeatedly against gun violence in the United States. We urge our members to call upon lawmakers to take stronger stands against gun violence, particularly by supporting background check expansions, which close loopholes that allows individuals and unlicensed gun sellers to sell and resell guns without first performing a background check on the would-be buyer; to demand the implementation of ‘Red Flag laws’ that allow family or law enforcement to petition in court for permission to have weapons removed from people who are known to be a threat to others or themselves; and to support federal and state funding for research on gun violence.
“Gun violence is not an act of nature; it is under our control. It is past time for U.S. politicians to put aside partisanship in order to save innocent lives. They must firmly and immediately enact meaningful gun reform legislation.”
Resources on gun violence, including past statements, relevant resolutions, and resources for rabbis and victims, can be found on our website.