Synagogue created interfaith group to educate community about gun control.
Community Contact Information:
Chicago Sinai Congregation
- Educate the community about the importance of responsible gun control.
- Strengthen relations between local faith communities.
- Establish a unified interfaith voice on gun control.
Each year, more than 30,000 Americans die due to gun violence, including about 4,000 children and teenagers. Our Jewish tradition demands that we continue to act for prudent gun regulation. By speaking to our children about guns, by mobilizing our congregations around the persistent threat of gun violence, and by doggedly demanding that Congress follow the will of the public rather than pursue gun lobby dollars, we may well see a reversal in the tide of gun violence. But unless we speak out, all that remains is the silence of victims punctuated by gun blasts.
The congregation set a goal of establishing a unified religious voice in the city about gun control, through the creation of the Interfaith Initiative Against Gun Violence. The synagogue recruited several influential congregations of various faiths to join the initiative.
In their efforts to respond to gun violence and create positive change, the organizers of the initiative:
- provided clergy to lead opening and closing prayers at the local Million Mom March and other gun violence rallies held in the area.
- signed an Amicus Brief in support of the city’s lawsuit against gun manufacturers and dealers in the suburbs surrounding the city. The lawsuit holds manufacturers and dealers responsible for knowingly and illegally providing firearms. This lawsuit was dismissed and the state circuit court level, and is currently before an Illinois Appellate Court. The Amicus Brief is in support of the city’s appeal.
- called a town hall meeting, as part of a nation-wide effort, on the issue of gun violence. The keynote speaker was a prominent local doctor and activist, who addressed gun violence as a public health issue. The Initiative also helped organize town hall meetings on this day in two inner city communities.
- held a day-long “teach-in”, featuring distinguished guests from the medical community and local government officials.
- participated with an inner city faith group and a rural Mennonite community in a prayer vigil at a local gun shop cited by the federal government as the nation’s second worst offender in providing guns used in crime.
The initiative succeeded at raising awareness in the community about the importance of gun regulation. The local faith communities developed strong bonds and have continued to work together both in advocacy and community-building activities.