As chants of “Enough is enough” rang out, clergy from the Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities and members of faith-based congregations gathered on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall to remember the victims of the Newtown, Conn. attack and denounce gun violence. Taking place on the evening of Wednesday, Dec. 19, the interfaith prayer vigil drew more than 60 residents of L.A. County and beyond.
“As we continue to deal with the incredible grief and the profound sense of vulnerability in the aftermath of this tragedy, we also remember that we are not powerless, that we can and we must work together to keep our streets and our schools safe," said Rabbi Sharon Brous, spiritual leader of IKAR.
(To read the entirety of Brous’ statement click here).
Rabbis in attendance included Brous, Rabbi Joshua Levine Grater of Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center and Rabbi Jonathan Klein (Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice).
Participants carried signs that read ”Love people not guns,” "Grief compassion action" and “stop gun violence." Others carried candles.
Twenty pairs of children shoes were lined up in a row, one for each of the children killed in the Dec. 14 massacre, when a gunman entered an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. and opened fire.
In addition to the children, all first-graders, the Newtown shooter, Adam Lanza, killed six of the school’s staff members and his mother. After he attacked the school, Lanza killed himself.
During Wednesday’s event at City Hall, Rabbi Grater led the prayer, “el male rachamim,” which is recited during Jewish funerals, and he translated it into English. A moment of silence followed. Two women shared personal stories about losing loved ones – one a fiancé, the other her child - to gun violence.
The Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative, which is comprised of social justice groups from all three major religions and LA Voice, a citywide coalition of faith leaders, families and communities, organized the vigil, which began at 5 p.m and lasted approximately 30 minutes,
Pastor Ryan Bell (Hollywood Seventh-day Adventist Church), Pastor Shane Scott (Macedonia Baptist Church in Watts) and Salam Al-Marayati , president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council also turned out, among other clergy members.
Woodland Hills resident Virginia Classick brought and passed out candles.
“People, families especially need to be educated about the risk of having a gun that’s accessible…and the other part is legislative, “ said Classick, a member of the Abrahamic Faiths Peacemaking Initiative, during an interview. “There is reasonable, sensible gun control legislation that does not infringe with the rights of people who are able, if they choose, to own a gun.”