GLEN ROCK, NJ - On Sunday, June 2, 2019, more than 200 community members gathered in Glen Rock for the Circle of Light vigil against gun violence. As part of #WearOrange, a national gun violence awareness campaign from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense for Everyone, participants arrived wearing orange clothing.
The event began at the Sikh Gurudwara on Prospect Street. After a warm welcome from the Sikh community, including traditional Sikh music from children, the crowd heard from representatives of each of the co-sponsors: Erica Danziger, the co-leader of Glen Rock After the March, who spoke of the importance of remaining active and engaged in the face of violence and hate; The Rev. Mark R. Collins, President of Religious Communities of Glen Rock, who offered a universal prayer for peace; Casey Bedwell-Coll, a Glen Rock High School student who spoke on behalf of Students Demand Action and was surrounded by her fellow teens; Larisa Mendez-Downes from Moms Demand Action, who informed the crowd of their advocacy opportunities and NJ Attorney General and Glen Rock resident Gurbir Grewal, who reminded everyone about the prevalence of gun violence in New Jersey’s inner cities.
The group then walked a path past various houses of worship while singing songs of peace and love. When the crowd turned the corner onto Harristown Road, they were greeted by a group of Jewish residents gathered outside of Glen Rock Jewish Center with the joyous sounds of the song, “Heiveinu Shalom Aleichem” (“We brought peace upon you”). It was a moment of celebrating life.
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Upon returning to the Gurudwara, Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg led a candlelight ceremony starting with the sweet song, “This Little Light of Mine.” In the end, she asked the crowd to raise their candles up to the sky, bring them back down to their hearts and blow them out - but to carry the light inside of them forward beyond the evening.
In an era of divisiveness in our communities, it was especially poignant to have people from all faiths and backgrounds show support and solidarity on an issue that affects everyone. "When we come together, the feeling of the event continues to echo throughout the community long after the moment has passed. Awareness-raising experiences, like this vigil, have a ripple effect on the people who participate. We’ve heard of people who reached out to their clergy for the first time to talk about safety in houses of worship and people who turned their intentions into actions by getting involved in advocacy through Moms Demand Action. New relationships are formed and existing relationships are emboldened within and across different faith groups. It is our human connection to each other that makes Glen Rock a community," Danziger said after the event.