Interfaith Solidarity Service After New Zealand Shooting

I am so proud to be here tonight, among all of you, standing together as one, against hate and violence. Tonight, Jewish communities would traditionally be gathered in celebration of Shabbat, yet, when given the opportunity to come and stand as allies with our Muslim sisters and brothers, the choice was easy.

I wanted to be here tonight, standing next to all of you. Standing strong against hate. It says a lot that our town of Santa Rosa responds the same way to attacks against all religious institutions … Christians in Charleston, Jews in Pittsburgh, and Muslims in New Zealand.

This is not the way I want to see my interfaith colleagues! I want to come together to celebrate our faiths and our happiness… not continuously plan memorial services after tragedies occurring across the globe.  

I am tired of sending prayers after tragedies. I am sad, I am disturbed, I am enraged and angry, and I am scared. I am really, really scared… but I am not at all surprised!

None of the gun violence shocks me anymore. Whether the shooting happens at a school, a concert, a mall or a sacred prayer space… nothing seems to be off limits. Not children, seniors or even people deeply in prayer.

There are too many violent attacks to jolt me, too many to surprise me, too many for me to even keep them straight.

This country is so divided on guns it’s astonishing. After each violent act, some have hope that it will be the tipping point to enact new legislation… and, each time, as the media moves on, I am more disappointed.

Looking at New Zealand, I am in awe…. It took them 6 days to enact new gun laws!!!

“On Thursday, a day after the first victims were laid to rest, the Prime Minister announced a national ban on all military-style semiautomatic weapons, all high-capacity ammunition magazines and all parts that allow weapons to be modified into the kinds of guns used in last week’s attack.”[1]

We need to look at other countries as examples and demand more of our own!

We need to demand more gun laws. We need to eradicate the Islamophobia, antisemitism, homophobia and hate that have permeated our media, government officials and everyday language. “We need to call an end to hateful rhetoric that is providing a scaffolding upon which extremists justify their hateful acts.”[2]

Tonight we come together in love and support, to mourn and to learn about one another, hopefully building bridges and solidarity that will transcend time.

I am overcome with sadness for my Muslim sisters and brothers… We are all descendants of Abraham, alike in more ways than we are different. 

“Today we remember, with sadness, the attacks
In New Zealand and the loss of precious life

With Your gentle and loving hand,
God of Shelter,
Unite all of your children
Under Your canopy of hope and love.
Bring the light of salvation and healing
To the four corners of the earth.”[3]

And, let us say Amen


[2] Rabbi Sarah Bassin

[3] Alden Solovy