LIVINGSTON, NJ — On Sunday night at Temple B'nai Abraham in Livingston, five survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shared their hearts and minds, telling a standing-room-only crowd of more than 2,000 that it is time to end gun violence now.
The rally for common sense gun legislation was organized by Jewish Federation of Greater Metrowest NJ and included many elected officials including Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ).
Linda Scherzer, who helped organize the event, said, "The Parkland shooting touched close to home for many New Jersey residents with cousins, friendsand a counselor among the victims. The rally provided a powerful opportunity for the community to join together to support one another and be inspired by the survivors."
Harris Jaffe, a 16-year old sophomore at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD), said, "Stoneman Douglas does not want to be known as the last school that got shot up. We want to be known as the last school that ever got shot up."
“Stay woke and get out and vote” said Marjory Stoneman Douglas senior David Hogg.
Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz of B'nai Abraham said, "As someone who has been working on the issue of gun violence prevention for years, it’s often been an uphill battle and hard to keep people focused on the issue. The energy in the room, with many interruptions for a standing ovation during speaker after speaker, made me feel that this is a watershed moment in our nation. David Hogg used the word I often use. We need to stay 'woke.' For too many years when a tragic mass shooting occurs, the country has responded with thoughts and prayers but no action. As a rabbi, I certainly believe in thoughts and prayers, but if we are not praying with our feet, voices and in the voting booths, then we are not effecting change."
“Even the smallest light, can make a world of change,” said 14-year-old Lauren Hogg, a freshman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas.
Dantowitz said, "I was deeply moved to hear the students speak tonight. I sat next to Rebecca Boldrick, mother of David and Lauren Hogg. As a mother and a rabbi, I could relate to the pain of a mother worrying about her children. Also next to me were Lindsey and Adam Kroll, cousins of Alyssa Ahladeff, a 14-year-old victim at MSD High School. They were grateful to feel the support of the whole community."
Scherzer said, "Each of the MSD students who spoke tonight inspired everyone present. After too many mass shootings, the organizing and activism from these students is spreading throughout the country. There is a feeling of hope, not despair, that perhaps now is the time when we as Americans are ready to say children’s lives are more important than guns."
"Parkland Strong is sharing its strength with the country. These students, teachers and families are in shock and mourning, but they are also turning their mourning into action. I am grateful for Greater Metrowest Federation for organizing this rally. I am committed to continue taking action for gun violence prevention and think the kids are going to lead the way," said Dantowitz.