June 13, 2016 8 Sivan 5776 Livingston Town Hall
In the wake of the bloodshed in Orlando, an area vigil was held Monday evening at Livingston Town Hall. Rabbi Dantowitz, who has been active in gun violence prevention efforts in the state, was among the speakers. Below are her remarks:
We join together tonight to mourn and share our grief. Jewish tradition teaches that one life represents a whole world. To save a life is to save the world. To destroy a life, is to destroy the
world. We lost many worlds this weekend in Orlando.
A poem, by Alden Solovy:
For Orlando, For the USA
There was blood everywhere.
Fifty dead. And blood everywhere.
Author of life,
Source and Creator,
Grant a perfect rest under Your tabernacle of peace
To the victims of the massacre
In Orlando, Florida,
Fifty men and women whose lives were cut off by violence,
In a rampage of aggression beyond understanding,
Targeted by vehemence and hate.
May their souls be bound up in the bond of life,
A living blessing in our midst.
May they rest in peace.
There was blood everywhere.
Fifty-three wounded. And chaos.
G-d of justice and mercy,
Send healing to those wounded in this assault.
Fifty-three men and women who were
Struck by brutality.
Remember all the survivors of this attack,
Witnesses of shock, horror and dismay.
Ease their suffering and release their trauma
So that they recover lives of joy and wonder.
Grant them Your shelter and solace,
Blessing and renewal.
Grant them endurance to survive
Strength to rebuild,
Faith to mourn,
And courage to heal.
Yes, there is blood everywhere.
Columbine. Virginia Tech. Fort Hood.
How much more blood will be spilled
Sandy Hook. Killeen. San Yisidro.
When will sanity return?
Aurora. Charleston. Washington Navy Yard. Red Lake.
When will the U.S. confront this scourge of violence?
There is blood everywhere.
G-d of love and shelter,
Remember the families and friends
Of all the dead and the wounded
In Orlando and throughout the U.S.
Remember them with comfort and consolation.
Grant them Your protection,
Your wholeness and healing.
Put an end to anger, hatred and fear
And lead us to a time when
No one will suffer at the hand of another,
Speedily, in our day.
© 2016 Alden Solovy and tobendlight.com. All rights reserved.
We remember the victims of gun violence at the Pulse club in Orlando, names of 48 of the 49 victims.
- Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34.
- Stanley Almodovar III, 23.
- Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo, 20.
- Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22.
- Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36.
- Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz, 22.
- Luis S. Vielma, 22.
- Kimberly Morris, 37.
- Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30.
- Darryl Roman Burt II, 29.
- Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32.
- Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21.
- Anthony Luis Laureanodisla, 25.
*Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35.
- Franky Jimmy Dejesus Velazquez, 50.
- Amanda Alvear, 25.
- Martin Benitez Torres, 33.
- Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37.
- Mercedez Marisol Flores, 26.
- Xavier Emmanuel Serrano Rosado, 35.
- Gilberto Ramon Silva Menendez, 25.
- Simon Adrian Carrillo Fernandez, 31.
- Oscar A. Aracena-Montero, 26.
- Enrique L. Rios Jr., 25.
- Miguel Angel Honorato, 30.
- Javier Jorge-Reyes, 40.
- Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32.
- Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19.
- Cory James Connell, 21.
- Juan P. Rivera Velazquez, 37.
- Luis Daniel Conde, 39.
- Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33.
- Juan Chevez-Martinez, 25.
- Jerald Arthur Wright, 31.
- Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25.
- Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25.
- Jonathan Antonio Camuy Vega, 24.
- Jean C. Nives Rodriguez, 27.
- Rodolfo Ayala-Ayala, 33.
- Brenda Lee Marquez McCool, 49.
- Yilmary Rodriguez Sulivan, 24.
- Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32.
- Angel L. Candelario-Padro, 28.
- Frank Hernandez, 27.
- Paul Terrell Henry, 41.
- Antonio Davon Brown, 29.
- Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24.
Akyra Monet Murray, 18.
We also remember
NJ victims of gun violence this past weekend:Christina Grimmie, 22
Maurice Wimbush-Jalaah, 15, Trenton
Karelis Agudo, 23, Newark
Gene Rubino, Jersey City
El Male Rachamim.
God full of compassion.
Bring peace to the souls of all who have died, tragically taken from our midst before their time.
God, bring comfort to all of us who mourn, for the loss of innocence.
Help us to strengthen the bonds of friendship and understanding
To overcome indifference and apathy.
Comfort all of us at this sad time and guide us to move forward in love, in equality, in peace, to life.
Every time there is a mass shooting, there are vigils; there are services; there are moments of silence; and there are prayers.
We need to also pray with our feet to take action, as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught. After Newtown, we all thought: enough, not one more.
This Friday will be the one year anniversary of the shooting at the church in Charleston, SC. People of faith targeted for the color of their skin. In Orlando, people were targeted for their sexual orientation. And guns made it easier to kill so many. An assault rife weapon, whose ban expired in 2004.
The incredibly sad statistics are that more than
30,000 Americans are killed by firearms each year –
12,000 Americans are murdered by firearms each year –
30 Americans are murdered each day –
200 others are wounded each day
With 88 guns per 100 people, the United States has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world.
Tonight we stand together to grieve, to express sorrow, to voice our anger and to commit to take action. If all we do is post the hashtag “we stand with Orlando” or post a picture wearing an orange shirt, we are silent participants in this ongoing cycle of violence and hatred. It is not enough to tweet or post. We need to take more action.
But our country is becoming numb to this. Another act of gun violence. 50 weeks after our country adopted marriage equality for all. I remember celebrating, waving my rainbow flag last June 26th. Cautiously optimistic for increased acceptance of everyone. This act of hatred committed during this beautiful month of Pride for our LGBTQ community, when we celebrate that love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, as so beautifully spoken last night by Lin Manuel-Miranda. Yesterday was also the first night/day of the Jewish holiday of Shavuot—when Jews celebrate God giving the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai. It’s a time of revelation and celebration. And this is also the holy month of Ramadan, a holy month for Muslims.
There is a saying in Judaism that mitzvah goreret mitzvah, avera goreret avera which can be translated as one good deed leads to another and one sin leads to another. When we speak kindly, treat others with respect, help family, friends, and those in and out of our community, we bring healing to the world. In contrast, when we utter words of hatred, towards anyone because of her gender, religion, race, or sexuality, we foster an environment that is toxic. Torah, the Bible, teaches us to love your neighbor as yourself. Here in Livingston, we celebrate diversity. There is no room for hatred. There is no room for homophobia. There is no room for Islamophobia. There is no room for xenophobia—fear of the stranger. There is no room for racism.
Do Not Stand Idly by while your neighbor bleeds. This verse from the book of Leviticus is also the name of a campaign against gun violence which Livingston has signed onto. It recognizes that we, taxpayers, purchase 40 % of the guns in this country. It’s time to hold gun manufacturers accountable for the guns that are sold. It’s time to pursue smart gun technology as soon as it’s fully tested by law enforcement. It may not prevent a mass shooting, but it will stop a toddler from killing her parent.
A popular Gay nightclub, Pulse in Orlando included an evening of music, dancing, good friends, and pride in June turned into a nightmare. We are trying as individuals and a nation, to figure out how do we move forward.
This is a time for grieving. For comforting one another. But this is also a time to say stop. It’s a time to reach out to one another. To open our arms, to embrace one another in love. To turn towards a stranger, and turn her into a friend.
And the people of Florida have lined up to help those who are literally bleeding from horrific wounds, by donating blood.
Tonight, we reach out to one another, and continue to reach out to each other in love. Tomorrow, we continue to embrace and we also commit to act to make a difference to end gun violence; to end homophobia. To pursue shalom—wholeness and peace.