Jewish Youths, With Newtown on Their Minds, Rally Against Gun Violence at USY Convention

January 3, 2013 10:47 pm 0 comments

Jewish youths rally against gun control Dec. 26 at a Boston event organized by United Synagogue Youth (USY). Photo: USY.

BOSTON—In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, United Synagogue Youth’s annual international convention ventured outside the confines of its Jewish denomination and into the realm of a national political issue.

USY, the youth movement of the Conservative movement’s congregational umbrella (United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism), on Dec. 26 drew about 1,000 Jewish youths to Boston’s Copley Square as part of the “Praying With Our Feet” rally against gun violence.

During the rally, USYers (as they are affectionately known) were taught the effects of collective action and given background information on gun control regulations.

“We felt it was important to mobilize the USYers around an issue that really is pan-denominational—it crosses all lines; it’s not a white, a black, a Jewish, a Catholic thing. It’s an every thing. It is a global issue that we are addressing and something that our USYers can feel that they are making an impact and have a voice because they don’t actually have a vote yet,” said USY Communications Coordinator Matthew Halpern.

USY International President Joshua Ull said the group rallied “not for policy but for peace” in the wake of the shooting that killed 26 people in Newtown, Conn.

“Through our efforts, USY is making a difference: We are the voice for the [Sandy Hook] children who did not have a chance to speak up for themselves,” he said.

The rally opened with a briefing at the Copley Marriott Hotel, followed with a march to the center of Boston’s downtown area, where featured speakers included Rabbi David Levy (director of teen learning for the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism), Pastor Corey Brooks of the New Beginnings Church of Chicago, and Colin Goddard, a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting.

Sheila Decter, director of the Jewish Alliance for Law & Social Action, in her speech outlined a potential three-pronged reform plan created by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition.

The plan suggested requiring a criminal background check for every gun sold in the U.S., banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and making gun trafficking a federal crime with real penalties. Decter read a letter from Boston Mayor Thomas Menino in which the mayor described that changes in gun control legislation eliminated 500 illegal guns from the city’s streets in the past year.

After the Sandy Hook shooting, USY as an organization felt the rally was a natural direction to go in.

“The issue of gun violence touches every community our USYers come from and our teens are ready to raise their voices and make a difference,” Rabbi Levy said in a press statement.

Miriam Ross, a parent chaperone for NERUSY (a region including USY chapters from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine), said she felt it was important that the rally had “both a verbal and physical aspect to what the kids were doing, because they are our future… and being able to exercise their voices, their First Amendment rights, understanding the importance of taking a stance, the event really concretized that feeling.”

Despite the Newtown tragedy being the impetus for their rally, USYers maintained uplifted spirits throughout the hour-and-a-half outdoor event. USYers, as well as their siblings and parents, held bright-colored signs calling for the end of gun violence and the increase of gun control. Speakers were punctuated by intermissions of song and dance led by the USY convention’s artist-in-residence, Josh Nelson.

“It’s very motivational for us as teens,” USYer Rachel Kaufman, who is from Providence, RI, said of the rally. “I learned that there are so many ways you can get people together to make a statement, but there is just one event for us in a year (the USY convention) that we can come together as a youth group. [Change] can be done through music, words, and our beliefs. It was really powerful.”

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Theater US & Canada New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    New Play Explores the ‘Arrogance’ of American Jews Critical of Israel, Playwright Says

    In his new play Mr. Goldberg Goes to Tel Aviv, playwright Oren Safdie tackles an issue that he has a major concern with: the relationship between Israelis and left-leaning Diaspora Jews with their “I know better” critical views. At the heart of the one-act play is Tony, a Jewish and gay Palestinian sympathizer who expresses strong anti-Israel sentiments when the play begins and at one point even sides with a Palestinian terrorist who holds his captive. Tony, who is also an [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    Hassidic Parody of Taylor Swift Song Apes Long Jewish Holidays (VIDEO)

    A Jewish comedy troupe released a parody video on Wednesday of Taylor Swift’s hit song Shake It Off in which they joke about taking extensive time off from work for Jewish holidays. “And the goyim gonna stay, stay, stay, stay, stay. And the Jews are gonna pray, pray pray, pray, pray. I’m just gonna take, take, take, take, take. I’m taking off,” goes the chorus for I’m Taking Off. Menachem Weinstein, the video’s lead singer, is the creative director at [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    On 75th Anniversary, Looking at the Jewish Influence on Gone With the Wind

    JNS.org – The 75th anniversary of the premiere of “Gone with the Wind” on Dec. 15 presents an opportunity to examine the Jewish influence on one of the most popular films of all time. That influence starts with the American Civil War epic’s famed producer, David O. Selznick. Adjusted for inflation, “Gone with the Wind” remains the highest-grossing movie ever made. It earned the 1939 Academy Award for Best Picture, the same honor another Selznick film, “Rebecca,” garnered in 1940. Selznick [...]

    Read more →
  • Featured Music US & Canada EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    EXCLUSIVE: Matisyahu Provides Most Extensive Analysis Yet of His Religious, Musical Evolution (INTERVIEW)

    Matisyahu got candid in an exclusive interview with The Algemeiner on Monday about his religious and musical journey – after shedding his Chassidic skin, yarmulke, long beard and all – from the start of his career in 2005 when he became a reggae superstar with hits King Without a Crown and Jerusalem. The singer-songwriter embarks on his Festival of Light tour this month, an annual Hanukkah event that stops in Montreal, New York, and other cities before ending in San Juan, [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Personalities ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    ‘Sheriff of Mars’ Unveils Endearing Life of Jewish Music Star Hidden in the Fields of France

    JNS.org – It was an era of steel strings, guitar heroes, and storytellers—high on heroin, rebellious. Outlaw country music, the hallmark of Nashville’s powerful and angry music scene of the 1970s, was the brew of greats such as Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Townes Van Zandt. But there is another, little-known music hero of that era: Daniel Antopolsky. A Jewish lad from Augusta, Ga.—the son of immigrants who settled in the south and ran a hardware store on Main Street—the [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian Actress Replaces Israel’s Gal Gadot for ‘Ben-Hur’ Remake

    Iranian actress Nazanin Boniadi replaced Israeli star Gal Gadot as the female lead in the new Ben-Hur remake, Hollywood.com reported on Tuesday. The Homeland actress will play Esther, a slave that Ben-Hur sets free and falls in love with. Gadot quit the movie when it became clear that filming conflicted with her schedule for the Man of Steel sequel. The Israeli actress plays Wonder Woman in the superhero film Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Actor Jack Huston takes on the [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.