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Reform Movement Launches Gun Violence Prevention Network and Learning Fellowship

Reform Movement Launches Gun Violence Prevention Network and Learning Fellowship

Students gathered with a sign that reads "Books Not Bullets"

In the last year, our youth-led, Reform Jewish gun violence prevention campaign engaged hundreds of student leaders around civic engagement and reducing gun violence in America. In our second year, we want to train even more stellar leaders, and mobilize to pass state and federal gun violence prevention legislation. We’re building partnerships across lines of race and faith, working to lift up and learn from young activists of color who have been doing this work for decades, and rallying the entire Reform Movement, two million Jews strong, behind our efforts.

The Student State Leadership Network (SSLN) is a network of student gun violence prevention leaders primed to lead the work in their home states. They will work with policy organizations to get a better understanding of the legislation moving in their state governments, and mobilize Reform Jews in their state in support of legislation that addresses our policy priorities: implementing universal background checks, banning assault weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines, funding Centers for Disease Control research on the scale and impact of gun violence in America, and supporting people in crisis through Extreme Risk Protection Orders. Don’t see a Student Lead in your state? You could be the right person. Apply now!

Meet the Student Leads:

California

My name is Talia Wilcox, and I'm from Temple Beth Torah in Ventura, California. I am a sophomore at Ventura High School, where I am a violinist in our Honors String Orchestra, incoming President of Model United Nations, and Vice President of Outreach and Communications for our school chapter of National Association of Students Against Gun Violence. I live 30 minutes away from where the Borderline shooting occurred, a tragedy that deeply affected my community. I believe that gun violence prevention is an important issue for which to advocate because it is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. It affects every living human, so I believe everyone should get involved in preventing gun violence.

Illinois

My name is Chloe Young. I am a freshman in high school and I go to Temple Sholom of Chicago. Living in Chicago, violence is everywhere. I have never had a first hand encounter with gun violence, but it has been near me my whole life and various of my friends have encountered violence. the amount of innocent people that die due to something we can control is horrendous and it’s so important to me that we help stop the deaths of innocent people.

Texas

Coming Soon

New York

My name is Matthew Furman, and I am an 11th grader in New York City. I attend Temple Shaaray Tefila where I am the social action vice chair of the youth group. I decided to begin doing gun violence prevention work because I was disappointed that many politicians were not willing to take action to protect their constituents because they were more concerned with lining their pockets. Seeing the work of the Parkland students made me feel like I could really make change in the world.

Washington, DC

Hi, I'm Madeline Mardiks and I am originally from Brooklyn, New York and a member of Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. Gun Violence Prevention work has always been something that has been extraordinarily important to me and a part of my life through internships, advocacy, and more. I am currently a sophomore at American University, and I am beyond excited to continue my dedication to GVP work in this role.


Our first cohort of Gun Violence Prevention Fellows, a partnership between the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and NFTY - the Reform Jewish Youth Movement, launches in April. Meet the student leaders selected for the fellowship, and stay tuned for information on their local projects to reduce gun violence in their communities. Interested in applying or staying in the loop for the Fall Cohort? Check out our application.

Meet the GVP Fellows:

I’m Maddy Denker and I’m from Beth Chaim Reform Congregation outside of Philadelphia, PA, and I attend Jack M Barrack Hebrew Academy as a freshman. I wanted to get involved with Gun Violence prevention work because I see how it affects so many lives of kids who are similar to me. The Parkland and Pittsburgh shootings hit very close to home for me, and solidified to me that I needed to be an activist or the moment to act would end again. I don’t want to live in fear that something like that could happen to me or my family and the only way to end it is to take action.

My name is Rachel Eisenman and I am from Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, PA. I want to get involved with gun violence prevention so our schools, our places of worship, and our homes can be safe again.

I am Rachael Kisver and I belong to Congregation Beth Or in Pennsylvania. I am excited to dive into this program to use my voice to prevent gun violence.

Hi, my name is Avery Miller and I am a member of Congregation Beth Or in Pennsylvania. I want to get involved with gun violence prevention work so that everybody can live their life without being in constant fear of losing it.

Hi! I'm Sydnee Ostroff and I am a member of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, PA. I do gun violence prevention work so that every person has the ability to walk into places and feel completely safe, not being frightful as they turn the corner.

My name is Eli Perlin and I am a member of Temple Sholom of Chicago. I got involved with gun violence prevention because Chicago is a city plagued with gun violence, so it is important to me to help change my city, and the country as a whole.

Hi, my name is Sari Rosenberg and I attend Temple Sharey Tefila Israel in South Orange, New Jersey! I want to become involved in gun violence prevention because it has become an epidemic that is affecting thousands of innocent people nationwide; hopefully our efforts can prevent these tragedies from happening.

I'm Cameron Samuels from NFTY-TOR. I go to Temple Sinai in Houston with some really amazing people. Gun violence has its many forms, and it is an epidemic that has been going on way too long, all across the nation, taking lives at no fault of the victims. Many people have spoken out against it, yet little to no action has been effective, allowing it to continue at alarming rates. There is no single way to prevent this violence, but there are many solutions including mental health reform, legislation, and spreading the ideology of peace and love. I want to be part of implementing these solutions.

My name is Avery Sloan and I am a member of Temple Beth Or in Raleigh. I want to get more involved with this issue because it is something that is only becoming more relevant and it frustrating when a completely preventable issue continually causes so many atrocities.

Hi! My name is Molly Westfall and I am a member of Tree of Life Congregation in Columbia, SC. I decided to become involved in this movement to be a leader in my community and drive changes. In particular, gun violence affects all of us, but is an issue that can be tackled with the right amount of education and advocacy.

My name is Talia Wilcox, and I'm from Temple Beth Torah in Ventura, California. I am a sophomore at Ventura High School, where I am a violinist in our Honors String Orchestra, incoming President of Model United Nations, and Vice President of Outreach and Communications for our school chapter of National Association of Students Against Gun Violence. I live 30 minutes away from where the Borderline shooting occurred, a tragedy that deeply affected my community. I believe that gun violence prevention is an important issue for which to advocate because it is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. It affects every living human, so I believe everyone should get involved in preventing gun violence.

My name is Chloe Young. I am a freshman in high school and I go to Temple Sholom of Chicago. Living in Chicago, violence is everywhere. I have never had a first hand encounter with gun violence, but it has been near me my whole life and several of my friends have. The amount of innocent people that die due to something we can control is horrendous and it’s so important to me that we help stop these innocent deaths.

Bios of our other fellows are in the works.

Logan Zinman Gerber is the national teen campaign organizer at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, working with high school and college students on the Reform Jewish Movement's gun violence prevention strategy and civic engagement. An alumna of the University of Wisconsin and the University of Chicago, Logan started her career working for Ceasefire, The Joyce Foundation, and Chicago Public Schools, and spent the last seven years working as NFTY's Chicago director. She is humbled to get to wake up every day and support our youth leaders in their pursuit of justice.

Logan Zinman Gerber

Published: 3/28/2019