Reflections on the DNSIB New Jersey Press Conference
by Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz
5 Adar II March 12, 2019
Holy Communities from the Cities to the Suburbs
Do you remember when you first became concerned about gun violence? After the Sandy Hook shooting, I recall staring at my youngest son’s elementary school door with despair, fearing that nothing could protect him. I wanted to do something but what?
I learned about the Do Not Stand Idly By (DNSIB) campaign for gun safety whose power analysis determined that we, the taxpayers, have purchase power. The public sector purchases 40% of firearms in the US market and also invests significantly in this industry via pension funds and other state investments.
What does this mean? It is time to hold gun manufacturers accountable for their products used in crimes. It is time to push for further development of safe or smart gun technology.
The DNSIB campaign organized over 130 mayors, police chiefs, county executives and governors from across the country. Together with TBA members, I met with Livingston and Millburn mayors and police chiefs who accepted our invitation to sign onto the campaign. I also met with the County Executive who signed onto the campaign.
This past year I have been part of a rabbinic organizing fellowship, JOIN for Justice. We worked with faith leaders of Jersey City Together, an organizing group, to bring this campaign to the State of New Jersey. In January, we had meetings with Governor Phil Murphy, Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and the Governor’s gun czar, Bill Castner. This led to the decision for New Jersey to sign onto the campaign. In addition, New Jersey is now going to name the gun manufacturers whose guns are found in crimes.
There is still more work to do to increase our safety. If you’re interested in sharing your connection to gun violence and/or getting involved, please let me know.
This is the prayer I was honored to deliver at the press conference in Jersey City on 3/12/19.
Makor HaChayim, Source of Life,
we thank You for the ability to gather as an interfaith community
joining together in this sacred cause
for the sake of Your creation.
This week the Jews begin reading the third book of the Torah,
This sacred scripture is filled with details of ritual sacrifice,
teaching the ancient Israelites how to draw closer to God.
This book includes the Holiness Code—
laws that teach us about living in community;
revering our parents,
Helping the poor and the stranger,
Judging your kinsman fairly
not dealing falsely with one another;
loving your neighbor as yourself.
Today, we join together as neighbors,
Neighbors from a beautiful array of backgrounds and beliefs,
from the cities to the suburbs,
with our neighbor’s concerns becoming our concerns;
our concerns becoming our neighbors’ concerns.
For in this Holiness code, Lev. 19:16 also teaches us
Lo Ta’amod al dam ray-echa—
Do not stand idly by while your neighbor bleeds.
Today, too many lives have been destroyed by gun violence.
We say no more. We will not stand idly by.
The plague of gun violence wreaks havoc on our cities, our towns,
our houses of worship, schools, neighborhoods and families.
God of Justice, God of Love, God of Compassion,
we pray that you guide our steps toward justice
Thank You for bringing New Jersey Together with elected leaders, faith leaders,
citizens and lay leaders united on a path toward justice.
And let us say, Amen.