Honoring the Memory of Those Who Died at Tree of Life

By Susie Kaufman, NCJW MN State Policy Advocacy Chair

October 31, 2023

Five years ago, at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, eleven of our Jewish brothers and sisters were murdered because of their religion. Hundreds more lives were changed forever as people lost mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, parents, and friends. And thousands of us were further traumatized by yet another attack on Jews in their house of worship, a place where we go for prayer, solace, reflection, and community. The shooter was armed with at least four guns, including an AR-15.

As anti-Semitism in the United States and across the globe has continued to grow over the past several years, and particularly in the last month, it has become even more incumbent upon us to be active members in the gun violence prevention movement. To that end, members of NCJW’s Gun Violence Prevention Committee have worked tirelessly over the past several years to advocate for concrete and effective gun safety legislation in Minnesota. And this past legislative session, they finally found success.

In May, the Minnesota legislature passed, and Governor Tim Walz signed into law, a bill to require background checks on all gun sales and an Extreme Risk Protection bill, which allows a judge to temporarily remove guns from the home of anyone deemed to be a risk to themselves or to others. These fundamental gun safety laws will make us safer as Jews, as Minnesotans, and as Americans.

We can also continue the hard work of advancing other critical gun safety legislation, including a federal assault weapons ban. These weapons of war have no place on our streets, and only serve to make us as Americans, and specifically as Jews, unsafe. We must honor those who died at the Tree of Life Synagogue with action, and we hope you will join us.