On December 14, 2012, almost three years ago, a gunman murdered twenty children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. This event of gun violence was the deadliest mass shooting at a primary or secondary school in U.S. history. Nearing the shooting’s third anniversary, we continue to mourn the lives that were lost, and our thoughts and prayers remain with families of those whose lives were taken.
Although we used to speak and write of the rarity of such a tragic shooting, we now see that far too often, people are killed and injured by guns in the United States. Each year, over 30,000 people are killed and 76,000 more become survivors due to gun violence. The loss of so many lives, especially those of children, is heart shattering and simply unacceptable.
Jewish tradition teaches us that “one who takes a single life it is as though he has destroyed the entire universe” (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5). Indeed, each time that someone is hurt or killed at gunpoint, our universe is more broken and shattered than it once was.
From December 10-14, many people of faith are coming together for the National Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath Weekend. Through the Newtown Foundation and Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence, a coalition of more than 50 national denominations and faith-based organizations (of which the URJ is part), thousands will join together to remember those who have lost their lives to gunfire, pray for those whose lives have been forever changed because of the loss of a loved one and to educate one another on proven strategies to reduce gun violence. Even if you or your congregation are not participating in an event this weekend, Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence has resources available to assist in planning a Shabbat around the theme of gun violence prevention at any point throughout the year.