The Central Conference of American Rabbis mourns the deaths of more than 30 men, women, and children struck down by domestic terrorists in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio all within the last week. We pray for comfort for the victims’ families and for the healing of scores of injured individuals, many of them also mourners.
All Americans should be shocked, though sadly, none should be surprised by these horrific massacres. They are enabled by the persistence of lax gun laws, the influential gun lobby, and congressional leaders who continue to impede common sense gun legislation. Moreover, it is clear that at least some of the murderers have found inspiration in the racist hate speech emanating from our national leadership, including from the President. Time and again, history has tragically taught us that targeted and hateful speech leads to hateful and violent action.
The Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a) teaches that whoever destroys a single life, it is as if that person has destroyed an entire world, but that whoever saves a single life, it is as if he/she has saved an entire world. In the face of these recent tragedies, Reform rabbis are grateful for the life-saving, sacrificial, and extraordinary work of first responders, medical professionals, and chaplains, including our own colleagues, who devote themselves to the healing and saving of lives, and worlds.
The time has long since passed for all people of conscience to unite in our efforts to try and prevent future massacres, by enacting and enforcing sensible gun laws, and by immediately calling out and curtailing all further hateful and racist speech, whatever its source. We must strive to live up to our highest national aspirations rather than succumb to our basest impulses, and continue to insist that America do better in its efforts to care for all of its inhabitants.
Rabbi Ronald Segal
Rabbi Hara E. Person
Central Conference of American Rabbis