By Nancy B. Greer
President & CEO
It’s impossible to grasp and even more difficult to articulate how the tragedies over this past weekend have affected our community. In my last CEO letter, the memory of the horrific shooting at the Federation 13 years ago was top of mind and heart. Can we ever really heal? Can we ever fully recover? The memorial service for Pamela Waechter z”l of blessed memory and the press conference that commemorated the anniversary of the shooting that stole her life and gravely wounded five other women were moments of reflection and calls to action. Joining hands with our partners, we must continue our work to get common-sense gun violence prevention legislation enacted into law.
On Saturday, the community of El Paso, Texas experienced a deadly mass shooting. A few hours later, another senseless taking of life occurred in Dayton, Ohio. As I hear from others in our community about how the hateful assault that took place in our office affected us, then and now, I can’t begin to comprehend the impact of these crimes on those communities. There are 31 innocent people dead. Each left grieving family members and friends, and stunned survivors. The dozens who were injured will carry their trauma forever. Witnesses will never be able to escape the horrible memories. May the memories of those killed be for a blessing. May each of the wounded find the strength of those wounded here in Seattle to heal, recover, and get strong. May they add their voices to the cause of preventing gun violence.
Gun violence wounds those who experience it directly and indirectly. Thirteen years later, our community is still healing. We will never be the same. Our victims are still healing. The people of El Paso and Dayton are experiencing deep pain. They need our support. We must act.
What can we do? The Federation has been engaged in the fight for gun violence prevention since 2006 and we will not stop. Each of us has a voice. We’ve raised our voices before to pass sensible gun violence prevention measures. We must raise them again and again. Call your state legislators. Contact your members of Congress. Demand that our elected representatives continue to act. Sign a petition advocating restricted access to high-capacity magazines. Join a vigil or other public event to voice your support for gun violence prevention.
Watching Cheryl Stumbo, badly injured in the Federation shooting, putting her own deep trauma and physical pain aside to fight for gun violence prevention, one interview, one speaking engagement at a time, is inspiring. Every time she shares her story she relives it. It is beyond painful and yet, because she is strong and clear in her goal, Cheryl puts herself out there. The others injured on that day are also working hard to move forward in life, to heal, and do good in this world after what happened to them. Each and every one of them is a hero to me. Let’s honor Pam’s memory, and those injured here—Layla Bush, Carol Goldman, Dayna Klein, Christina Rexroad, and Cheryl Stumbo—by taking action now.
As we come into the Tisha B’Av day of mourning, we grieve at ours and other communities’ losses because Jewish tradition reminds us that lest we forget history, it will repeat itself. Our tradition also calls on us to repair the world, tikkun olam. Let us redouble our efforts, continue raising our voices, build on the progress that we have made, and get stronger gun responsibility measures passed. We owe it to ourselves, our community, and our nation to do no less.