American Jewish leaders, both local and national, have expressed “shock and heartbreak” at the latest mass shootings which took the lives of nearly 30 people in Texas and Ohio last weekend.
And some of the leadership have taken the opportunity to make forthright calls for gun control.
In a statement, leaders of the Jewish Federation of Greater El Paso, Texas, said their “hearts and our profound condolences go out to the families of those who have lost their lives and we pray for a quick recovery of those injured”.
Federation leaders said they were “shocked and heartbroken that the irrational and devastating plague of violence sweeping this country has arrived at the door of our traditionally peaceful and congenial homes,” and praised emergency services for their “quick and decisive response.”
An interfaith community vigil was due to take place on Sunday night.
On Saturday, alleged shooter Patrick Wood Crusius, 21 posted a racist tirade on social media and then drove from his rural Texas home to El Paso, opening fire at a Walmart shopping centre, killing 20 people.
Cheif executive of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, said: “Thoughts and prayers are simply not enough. We have documented a rise in extremist activity, both online and in our communities. As with too many of these incidents.”
Again, over the weekend, there was another shooting, this time in Dayton, Ohio, where nine people were killed. The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dayton described the deaths as “heartbreaking.”
Rabbi Rick Jacobs. president of the Union for Reform Judaism, was in El Paso last week with hundreds of faith leaders to protest against the treatment of asylum seekers on the border with Mexico.
He said: “Now our hearts turn again to El Paso, in the face of this slaughter of innocents by a gunman who authorities say was inspired by anti-immigrant rhetoric. It is not enough for elected officials to muster their ‘thoughts and prayers.’ Like millions of Americans I’m sick of the pathetic excuses offered by too many lawmakers for not passing strong and effective common sense gun laws.”
A tweet from the American Jewish Committee echoed Rabbi Jacobs. It said: “We need common sense gun control NOW”, while its chief executive, David Harris, said: “As a nation, we need far more than “heartfelt thoughts & prayers” after #ElPasoTerrorAttack. The US faces an epidemic of mass shootings. We need concrete action, not a template reply. This is a national emergency. It can’t go on like this. Oh no, it just has. #Dayton”.
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