Rabbi Sharon Brous’ statement on the Newtown, Connecticut shooting

December 19, 2012

Appearing at an interfaith prayer vigil held at L.A. City Hall on Dec. 19, Rabbi Sharon Brous, spiritual leader of progressive congregation IKAR, denounced gun violence. She also expressed the need for the nation to come together to prevent the type of incidents that took place on Dec. 14, when a gunman opened fire in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and took the lives of 20 first-graders. She spoke for nearly three minutes. Read her entire statement below. 

Good evening.

This tragedy was not a natural disaster. This was not an inexplicable accident. This was an entirely predictable response to the terrifying and toxic mix, the combination of elements, the reckless and reprehensible proliferation of guns, which today are more easily accessible than Sudafed.

This is about the shameful and inadequate national treatment strategy around treatment of mental illness.

And this is about a culture that celebrates violence and brutality.

This is a toxic mix that erupted on Friday [Dec. 14] and is certain to erupt again—maybe this time in Los Angeles; maybe tomorrow; maybe in a couple of weeks.

But our tradition teaches in the Talmud that when a tragedy occurs, we are not allowed to shut our doors and our windows and eat and drink and say, ‘Well, all is well with me and my family.’

We are scared, we are in anguish, but we are part of a holy network of human beings – Jews and Christians and Muslims; African-Americans and Latinos; Democrats and Republicans – who care deeply about our children, who care deeply about our own safety and security and who are no longer willing to stand by and allow this to go unaddressed.

The President said on Sunday [Dec. 16] that our job is first and foremost caring for our children. ‘If we don’t get that right,’ he said, ‘then we don’t get anything right.’

And if we look honestly at what is going on in this country, we are not getting that right.

First and foremost, our obligation is to our children. The gun that was used in Newtown was a Bushmaster, a weapon whose ad slogan says ‘Consider your man-card reissued.’

We’re here today to fulfill the obligations we have to our children by saying that violence does not make you a man. Compassion does.

We are here to fulfill our obligations to our children by saying that access to magazine clips does not make us free, but working together to build a society that affirms the sanctity of all human life does.

We are here today to fulfill those obligations to our children by saying that we are unwilling to sit and wait for the next tragedy to occur, for the next time when the child-sized coffins need to be special ordered because there simply are not enough in stock.

As we continue to deal with the incredible grief and the profound sense of vulnerability in the aftermath of this tragedy, we also remember that we are not powerless, that we can and we must work together to keep our streets and our schools safe, to keep our malls and playgrounds safe from gun violence.

We do this for our children, we do this for all of us. This is what it means to be God’s partners in bringing about a world redeemed.

Let us say, ‘Amen.’

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