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Nation's Largest Jewish Organization Reaffirms Support for Gun Control Measures

Saperstein: "It's far past time for this nation, our nation, to follow the voice of the people instead of the voice of the NRA, to enact - and not to stonewall, delay, or water down - common-sense gun control that will help put an end to the relentless stream of tragedy that handguns cause in America."

Contact: Jeff Mandell, (202) 387-2800

WASHINGTON, January 28, 2000 — In response to President Clinton's State of the Union speech last night, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, released the following statement today:

On behalf of the Reform Movement, we congratulate President Clinton for his brave, passionate and wise words about gun control and we pledge our support to see that his initiative is adopted.

One month ago UAHC President Rabbi Eric Yoffie resoundingly called on all Reform Jews, in terms similar to the President's, to take action on this issue. "Periodically, a people must decide what it stands for, and what it will tolerate. Surely now is such a time. Now is the time to assemble a critical mass of citizens who will stand up and say no to the deadly toll that guns take on the lives of our children," he said.

In response to Rabbi Yoffie's resounding call, the 4000 leaders attending the Biennial convention voted overwhelmingly to call on our 895 synagogues to make gun control one of the Movement's most urgent policy priorities during this Congress. Each synagogue is being asked to invite elected officials to speak on gun control, to encourage its members to express their views to their elected representatives, and to reinforce and broaden existing gun control and anti-violence coalitions.

It's far past time for this nation, our nation, to follow the voice of the people instead of the voice of the NRA, to enact — and not to stonewall, delay, or water down — common-sense gun control that will help put an end to the relentless stream of tragedy that handguns cause in America.

That tragedy — which claims the lives of 14 of our children daily and more than 35,000 Americans each year — must end. We must, as the President suggested, not allow obstructionist arguments to stop us from protecting our families, our friends, our neighbors from the deadly scourge of gun violence we have too long ignored.

The Torah commands us not to "stand idly by the blood of our neighbor." And we shall no longer stand by; we shall insist that Congress takes positive steps toward reigning in the tragedy of gun violence in America, that our nation can begin to redeem all those who have died so senselessly. It is a worthy effort, for the Talmud teaches that "he who has saved one life, it is as if he has saved the world." It is no overstatement to say that our Congress, following the brave lead of President Clinton and others, can help "save the world," help imbue the senseless deaths of those killed by gun violence with some meaning, and guarantee that the lives of the living are far less likely to be ended by handgun violence than is the case today. Today we commit ourselves anew to playing a central role in that effort.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, representing its 895 congregations across North America, whose membership includes 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the 1700 rabbis of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.



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