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Nation's Largest Jewish Organization Reacts to North Hills Jewish Community Center Shootings

Saperstein: "It is our earnest hope that the cries of the children in Granada Hills will reach each and every member of Congress."

Contact: Jeff Mandell or Raanan Weintraub,
(202) 387-2800

WASHINGTON, August 10, 1999 — In response to the shootings at the North Valley Jewish Community Center of Granada Hills, California this morning, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

Our first concern, of course, is for the victims and their families. There is nothing more frightening nor more tragic than violence involving our children. There is no place that should be safer, no place more sacrosanct, than a faith-based community center; that this shooting was at a Jewish Community Center makes it all the more shattering for us. We pray that all of those injured will recover quickly and fully.

Our society, too, needs to recover from the epidemic of gun violence that has swept our nation. As Congress stands in recess, working in their home districts, we renew our call for common-sense gun control laws. Congress' inaction has left loopholes in our gun control laws, but more importantly it has fostered the culture of violence that spawns tragic and potentially-tragic events every week. We must both mitigate the availability of guns and work to mend our society, to create a nation where violence is not tolerated, where events like today's are simply unheard of, where our children can grow up without ever seeing the terrifying images that have become commonplace on our evening news.

It is our earnest hope that the cries of the children in Granada Hills will reach each and every member of Congress, and that our children's plaintive voices of fear will affect Congress in ways that our voices of advocacy so far have not. In the wake of this shooting, and all of those that have preceded it, there can be no higher priority for our Congress than preventing guns from falling into the hands of those who seek to perpetuate the culture of violence. It is our most pressing moral imperative.

I have two young boys of my own the ages of these children. This summer, they have just learned Pete Seeger's "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" I wish Congress would take to heart the question, "When will they ever learn?"

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in 875 congregations throughout North America.



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