Rabbi Shankman Participates in National Day of Action on Gun Violence

On Wednesday, June 29, a week after Democrats staged a nearly 26-hour sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives, Congressmen held dozens of events across the country as part of a national day of action against gun violence. Rabbi Shankman was invited to represent the Jewish faith and deliver the closing prayer at Maryland’s rally and press conference in Baltimore.

Standing with her on the steps of Cathedral of the Incarnation were Maryland Congressmen Chris Van Hollen, Elijah Cummings, Dutch Ruppersberger, and John Sarbanes; Baltimore health and safety officials, gun violence survivors, representatives from Marylanders to Prevent Gun Violence, and Christian and Muslim faith leaders. All there to push for action on gun safety.

“Today we stand with children who have seen the horror of gun violence firsthand, with mothers and fathers who have lost their sons and daughters to senseless violence, and with the vast majority of Americans who are fed up with moments of silence that are never followed by action,” said Congressman Van Hollen.

“We aren’t asking for much – just a chance to vote on common sense reforms that Americans overwhelmingly support to help keep guns out of the hands of terrorists and criminals,” said Congressman Ruppersberger. “Ensuring national security is the most important job of Congress. This issue is no different.”

“I have no doubt that gun violence is a public health crisis,” said Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen. “Unlike so many medical ailments that do not have a cure or a vaccine, with gun violence, we have the power to make change, prevent injury, and save lives.”

Surrounded by rainbow signs displaying the words, “Disarm Hate,” Rabbi Shankman reminded everyone of a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “The time is always right to do what is right.”  She continued, “Friends, that time is now.

The time is right to join together in honoring the memories of those lives lost to gun violence through our communal commitment to dedicate ourselves to changing the reality.

The time is right to remain steadfast in our courage to speak up and speak out, to stand, and sit when necessary, to change the tide of gun violence that has swept this country.

The time is right to hold each other accountable. To stand together.

She ended the rally with a closing prayer that included a value shared in both the Torah and Koran, “If you destroy a single life, it is as if you have destroyed the world. … Whatever our personal faith tradition may be, we stand together today because we share the values and truths espoused collectively by those traditions. Each of us was created B’tzelem Elohim—in the image of God, and therefore, the life of each and every person is sacred. We have seen the blood of our neighbors shed far too many times through gun violence.  What is right, is simply loving your neighbor as yourself. Let us go forward and together do what is right.”

The rally was covered widely in the media. The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, with which Cathedral of the Incarnation is affiliated, created a brief video summarizing the event.

Additional photos from the rally can be seen here.