Reform Jewish Movement Responds to Mass Shooting at Texas Church

For Immediate Release
November 5, 2017


WASHINGTON – In response to today’s mass shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, which left at least 26 people dead and many more injured, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement on behalf of the Union for Reform Judaism, Central Conference of American Rabbis, and wider Reform Movement:           

“We are devastated by the tragic news from Sutherland Springs. While details are still unfolding, what we do know is clear: a heinous act transformed a sacred worship service into a violent, bloody massacre. Our hearts ache for the victims, their loved ones, and the entire First Baptist Church community.

“Today’s tragedy is only the latest in a series of all too frequent preventable disasters. It is particularly horrifying that innocents were slaughtered in a house of worship, a terrifying reality for all people of faith who believe that their congregations are sanctuaries of peace, safety, and love. Two of the five deadliest shootings in modern American history have taken place in the last 35 days. We cannot tolerate this pattern or continue to react to these routine catastrophes with thoughts and prayers alone.

“The slaughter in Sutherland Springs is devastating but not shocking. Until our lawmakers gather the necessary courage to stand up to the gun industry and the NRA and pass common sense gun safety laws, it is only a matter of time before the next mass shooting takes place.

“Americans deserve to be safe while enjoying concerts, attending school, and praying in houses of worship. Congress must act to prevent the next Sutherland Springs, or the next Las Vegas, or the next Orlando, or the next Sandy Hook. Or, God forbid, another Emanuel AME of Charleston, SC. As long as elected officials continue to abdicate their basic responsibility to protect the American people, we are doomed to wait until tragedy strikes again.”


The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit for more.


Media Contact:
Sarah Garfinkel, West End Strategy Team; Office: 202-776-7700; Cell: 202-765-4290