Chicago Sinai Congregation
15 West Delaware
Chicago, Illinois 60610
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We all know the statistics: this year, more than 30,000 Americans will die due to gun violence, including about 4,000 children and teenagers. The laws in this country allow purchases at gun shows to go unchecked, guns to be sold without trigger locks, and guns to be manufactured without meeting any federal safety standards.
Chicago Sinai Congregation decided to do something about this scourge. Early in 2000, Rabbi Michael Sternfield founded the Interfaith Initiative Against Gun Violence, and Sinai has begun the work of establishing a unified religious voice in Chicago on this critical issue.
Several of the most influential congregations in Chicago are now active members, including: Holy Name Cathedral, St. James Episcopal Cathedral, Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chicago Temple (First United Methodist Church of Chicago), and Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral.
The Initiative has already had an impact on the debate in this city and in Illinois.
- The Initiative provided clergy to lead opening and closing prayers at the Chicago Million Mom March, as well as at another rally against gun violence held at the Federal Building.
- The Initiative, along with several individual member congregations (including Chicago Sinai Congregation), signed an Amicus Brief in support of the City of Chicago's lawsuit against gun manufacturers and dealers in the suburbs surrounding the city.
- The Interfaith Initiative held a town hall meeting on the issue of gun violence at St. James Episcopal Cathedral in October 2000. The keynote speaker was president-elect of Physicians for Social Responsibility, Dr. Lee Francis, who addressed gun violence as a public health issue. This event was timed to coordinate with other town hall meetings all around the country, all set for the same day. The Initiative also helped organize town hall meetings on this day in two inner-city communities.
- A daylong "teach-in" was held at Sinai in April 2000 featuring some of the greatest minds in the country speaking on this issue, including Dr. Stephen Teret from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and Representative Rod Blagojevich (D-IL).
- The Initiative is working closely with inner-city organizations to call attention to the gun shops that are flooding the city with weapons. It participated with an inner-city faith group and a rural Mennonite community in a prayer vigil at Chuck's Gun Shop in Riverdale, Illinois, cited by the federal government as the nation's second worst offender in providing guns used in crime.
The members of Chicago Sinai Congregation are sending a message with their mouths, their hands and their feet.
Is your congregation looking for more ways to reach out to the community? Check out the Religious Action Center Program Bank.