We Choose Life! — Remarks from the March for Our Lives Rally, June 11, 2022

Posted on June 12, 2022 by Rabbi Arnie Gluck

Yesterday, Rabbi Gluck spoke at the March for Our Lives Rally Against Mass Shootings and America’s Gun Violence Epidemic in Princeton. Here are his remarks and a moving poem by Reverend Lukata Mjumbe of the Witherspoon Presbyterian Church, Princeton. See below for action steps you can take.

We Choose Life!

Rally Against Mass Shootings & America’s Gun Violence Epidemic
Rabbi Gluck’s Remarks
June 11, 2022
Hines Plaza, Princeton, New Jersey

This is a time of immense grief. We mourn for our children who were mercilessly cut down. For the precious little 4th and 5th graders of Uvalde, Texas whose flesh was ripped apart by a weapon of war; a killing machine that no civilian should ever possess. We mourn for all the victims of senseless gun violence in this land; a country that insanely has more guns than people, and more gun deaths per capita than any other country!

We weep for the parents, who must live with a wound that will never heal; for the brothers and sisters, the grandparents, the friends, and the neighbors who will forever live in the shadow of this tragedy. And we must grieve for the children who survived, who will live the rest of their lives with the searing images of their classmates being massacred, whose childhood innocence has been shattered.

Like Mother Rachel in the Bible, who wept bitterly for the loss of her children, and refused to be comforted, we, too, must refuse to find solace. No, we must remain distraught. We must not cease to lament the outrageous destruction of life. We must never stop decrying our country’s idolatrous love of guns and the cult of death it has fostered. We must never, NEVER, rest easy so long as our children live in fear – fear for their safety – fear for their very lives. We must never be serene until our children are safe, and our classrooms are sanctuaries of life.

So, we must lament. We must cry and not be consoled. But our tears alone will not suffice. We must cry, but we must also cry out. That is why we are here today. To cry, and to cry out. We cry out to those in positions of power, to politicians who are in bed with the NRA, who have sold their souls to the angel of death for political power. We cry out to the gun manufacturers who profit from the blood of children. To every accomplice to this carnage, we cry out: We hold you accountable! We condemn you for valuing guns more than children. We judge you for fostering a culture in which an 18-year-old believes he needs a gun to feel like man and can get one within hours with little or no accountability.

To all who have voted against sensible gun legislation that would keep weapons of war out of the hands of killers, we declare: The blood of our children is on your hands! You are accomplices to murder, and we will not rest until you are defeated. We will not stop crying out until peace and security are restored to this land.

We have been here before. On March 24, 2018, after the massacre in Parkland, FL, we stood in this very place to grieve the murder of 17 high school students and to decry the scourge of gun violence. And here we are again. For the faint of heart, it is tempting to despair and to give up hope. But we will not give up! We will not give in! We will not accept or normalize the murder of innocent children. We will not grow weary of the struggle to save lives by banning assault weapons. We will continue to fight for demanding background checks, and to raise the age of gun ownership to 21. So, tell me: will you continue to cry out? Will you continue to lobby? Will you continue to vote our way to sanity? Will you get others to vote?

The Talmud teaches, “one who saves a single life has saved an entire world.” Will you carry on the fight for every life? Will you continue to work for the safety of every child in every school? Will you speak up for every distraught person who might take their own life if a gun is at hand at the wrong moment? Will you continue this movement for as long as it takes?

In the 30th chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses says in the name of God: “I place before you this day life and death, blessing, and curse. Choose life, that you and your children may live.” Let us declare this day, before heaven and earth, that we choose life! We choose life for our children and for ourselves! We choose life for this nation. We choose life!


Don’t Pray for Me

Reverend Lukata Mjumbe
Witherspoon Presbyterian Church, Princeton, New Jersey

Don’t. Don’t pray for me.

If all you are going to do is bow your head and close your eyes so that you don’t see me, then

Don’t. Don’t pray for me.

With teary eyed empty stares, claims of care, thoughts and prayers yet unprepared for your share in the repair — you wouldn’t dare, I DECLARE….

Don’t. Don’t pray for me.

When this pain could have been prevented. This crisis did not have to be. Our babies summer vacation plans shouldn’t be scheduled in the cemetery!

Don’t. Don’t pray for me.

Miss me with your mumbled meditations and practiced prose that struts and frets its hour upon stage to be heard no more / seen no more / no never more after the signifying of the spare ritual sweet nothings

Don’t. Don’t pray for me.

Because I’m ready to throw hands when you try to lay hands on me with trigger fingers pointed away from you, your politics, your policies, your laws, your lobbies….my real eyes realize your lies

Don’t. Don’t pray for me.

I don’t even hear a prayer, I hear a Preyer, P-R-E-Y-E-R. A predator that preys while praying. A wolf in sheep-donkey-elephant clothing, and I’m loathing your words FULL of sound and fury…yes, completely FULL of…..(shhhhh) it

Don’t. Don’t pray for me.

I don’t know who you are praying to. I don’t know what you are praying for. I don’t how you expect this pain to come to an end. But I KNOW I don’t want a God that blesses America’s sin

Don’t. Don’t pray for me.

And no — you can’t get an “amen.” You won’t get our amen until we bear witness to “a man” , a woman, a church, a mosque, a temple who’s prayer lives matter so much that they pray prayers that changes the prayer….and even the Preyer, but until then….

Don’t. Don’t pray for me.

Lukat Mjumbe
May 26, 2022

Help Stop the Surge of Gun Violence
You can make a difference.

Contact Legislators: Make calls or write letters. Learn more

If you would like to get involved in ongoing work at TBE for gun violence prevention, please contact Liz Cohen, chair of TBE’s Tikkun Olam Coalition (tikkunolam@templebethelnj.org)