LIVINGSTON, NJ — Following Sunday morning’s massacre in Orlando, the Livingston Township Council interrupted its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday to host a vigil at Town Hall, led by Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz and Rev. Dan Martian from Temple B'nai Abraham and organized by the Livingston Interfaith Clergy Association, National Council of Jewish Women and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Prior to Sunday’s events, the council had already scheduled to publically declare June 2 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day in conjunction with the “Wear Orange” campaign and said that it would be "remiss" if it did not also honor those lost in Orlando. Those assembled at the vigil lit a candle as Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz and Rev. Dan Martian led them in prayer and read the names of 48 of the 49 lost to Sunday’s violence.
The organizers also issued a call to action to help save lives from gunfire by handing out the number for the area’s U.S. Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen and encouraging those in attendance to use it often.
“The whole nation is grieving what happened—it was the greatest mass shooting in U.S. history that happened this weekend that just followed within 24 hours of Christina Grimmie’s shooting, who was from New Jersey,” said Lauren O’Brien, who works as a group leader for Union County’s chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We are here to demand that lawmakers pay attention to keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people.”
Rabbi Faith Joy Dantowitz from Temple B’nai Abraham asked those in attendance at the vigil to also remember all the survivors of the attack—the witnesses of “shock, horror and dismay.”
“Ease their suffering and release their trauma so that they recover lives of joy and wonder,” she quoted from a poem. “Grant them your shelter and solace, blessing and renewal. Grant them endurance to survive, strength to rebuild, faith to mourn and courage to heal.”
During the meeting, Mayor Al Anthony presented a formal proclamation in support of the movement to end gun violence.
Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old high school student from Chicago who marched in President Barack Obama’s second inaugural parade, was shot and killed a week later. Her friends chose to wear orange in her memory, not only because it was Pendleton’s favorite color, but also because it’s the color that hunters wear to protect themselves and others.
What started in the Southside High School to celebrate Pendleton was turned into a nationwide movement to honor all lives cut short by gun violence.
“Wear Orange was created to make it easier for people to show their support for common-sense solutions that will save lives,” said Anthony. “[The council] wanted to show our support for the 'Wear Orange' campaign and declare June 2 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day.”
Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America works not only to demand that lawmakers take action against gun violence, but also to prevent unintentional shootings in the home. According to O’Brien, the United States experiences 33,000 deaths per year due to guns—two-thirds of which are self-inflicted.
“A lot of times, unfortunately, we hear stories about children who find guns that are unsecured and there are these accidental shootings in the home,” said O’Brien. “We work very hard to try and bring awareness and change those statistics.”
The National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (MDAGSA) encouraged those in attendance to find our more about what they can do in what little time they have to make a difference in this country.
The NCJW and MDAGSA were represented by Mandi Perlmutter, Sue Wasserman, Shari Harrison, Deborah Legow Schatz, Ellen Klein, Kristin Wald, Nicole Bocour, Lyn Rosenweig and Cindy Charney among others.
Dial (202) 225-5034 to reach U.S. Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen to voice an opinion on these matters.