Featuring the RAC…
This post is part of a weekly feature on RACblog. Check in at the end of the week for a roundup of stories in which the RAC has been featured!
This week, Rabbi Saperstein was invited by Vice President Biden for a private meeting lasting 2 and a half hours with 20 other faith leaders to discuss next steps in the gun violence prevention debate. Reporting out from their conversation, Rabbi Saperstein recognized that the Administration is still very much committed to passing gun violence prevention legislation, but “The conversation presumed the vote would happen first on immigration…That seemed to be the back-and-forth on both sides – that immigration was a key priority right now. When that vote took place, it would be an opportunity to refocus on this.”
Additionally, in Center for American Progress’s recent article discussing the faith community’s involvement in the gun violence prevention debate, Rabbi Saperstein reflects on his involvement in an April rally on the National Mall, for which organizers erected a graveyard of crosses, Stars of David and other religious symbols to mark the 3,364 gun deaths in the United States that have occurred since the Newtown shooting. “Every one of those religious symbols represents one of God’s children,” explained Rabbi Saperstein. “See the one there? That’s a mother who won’t be there to comfort her child the next time they’re sick.”
Rachel Laser, the RAC’s deputy director, has also been a strong, public voice in the gun violence prevention debate. She has served as a rallying force, bringing the voices of small Jewish communities around the country to the Capitol. “Even when the community is small, it has a relationship with its representatives.” She noted, in particular, the role that the Reform Jewish community in Anchorage, Alaska had in advocating for enhanced background checks to Senator Mark Begich in advance of the vote on the Manchin-Toomey amendment.
Beyond the gun debate, the RAC has been actively involved in other pieces of moving legislation on Capitol Hill. Rabbi Saperstein spoke powerfully at a rally in support of immigration reform. In his remarks, Rabbi Saperstein proclaimed that the Torah commands Jews to “love the sojourner for you were once strangers. Could God be any more clear?…America can do better. America must do better. America will do better.”