Temple Beth El
Some Social Action programs are devoted to hands-on projects of direct assistance. Temple Beth El in Charlotte, North Carolina earned its award through an extensive program of advocacy. In the spring of 2000 the members of Temple Beth El realized they had a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness about gun violence in our society. Only one week after the Million Mom March in Washington, D.C., Charlotte, North Carolina was to host the NRA convention. The timing of the march and the convention seemed to lend itself to raising the issue of gun violence. Initially, Temple Beth El was only able to find one other group, the Quaker Friends, to join together to organize an anti-gun violence vigil. But soon a new group coalesced. Called the "Charlotte Coalition to Stop Gun Violence" (CCSGV), the Coalition includes the Charlotte Chapter of NCCJ (National Conference for Community and Justice), the Baptist Peace Fellowship, Mothers of Murdered Offspring and the Metrolina AIDS Project, along with Temple Beth El and the Charlotte Quaker Friends.
The Coalition put together a week's worth of activities that began the day after the Million Mom March and ended the weekend of the NRA convention. Events included a city-wide art exhibit that drew attention to the widespread use of guns and gun-related imagery as part of our culture and a mock funeral by Mothers of Murdered Offspring that remembered the names of the hundreds of gun-violence victims in North Carolina. The two most-publicized events were at the beginning and end of the week. A forum entitled "God and Guns: What is the Faith Community's Response to an Armed Society?" was held at the beginning of the week, and the week ended with a peace march and prayer vigil that united community groups and included prominent speakers.
Temple Beth El members attended almost all of the week's events, and at several events, including the "God and Guns" Panel and the Prayer Vigil, made up a sizable portion of the attendees. Many members indicated that they felt proud of the Temple's stand on this issue and were especially impacted by the connection they made with those outside of the Jewish community.