Read Rep. Gordon’s Remarks:
Rabbi Abramson, members of the interfaith clergy, and all of you gathered here; thank
you for allowing me to share a few thoughts with you tonight. Shabbat Shalom.
First, I join the chorus of voices here tonight, across Massachusetts and the nation who
have offered their thoughts and prayers to the families of the 11 victims of the mass
shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and especially to Sally and her son
Bill Rabinowitz, both of Bedford, whose son and brother Jerry Rabinowitz was lost that
We offer our thoughts and prayers as well to the two African-American victims who
were shot at a supermarket outside Louisville, Kentucky. Their killer first attempted to
bring his gun into a predominantly black church but was locked out because services
ended 90 minutes earlier.
Thoughts and prayers.
I’ve offered them many times, and we’ve gathered for vigils and showings of solidarity
often. Too often. Offering thoughts and prayers is necessary, brings us together, and
makes us feel as if we’ve done something. They are useful and should not cease. But
what have they accomplished?
Just after I took office, we offered thoughts and prayers to the 27 children who were
gunned down at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. That
didn’t stop another gunman from murdering 17 students at the Marjory Stoneman
Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida six years later.
Three years ago we offered our thoughts and prayers to the victims of a mass shooting
at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, where nine people
were gunned down while praying — murdered for the color of their skin. That didn’t
help the 11 worshipers of the Tree of Life Congregation — murdered because they were
Friends, our thoughts and prayers are simply not enough.
John F. Kennedy knew they weren’t enough when he delivered his inauguration
address. He said, “with a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final
judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His
help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”
Or, as Ben Franklin said, “God helps those who help themselves.”
On Tuesday you will have a chance to do more than offer your thoughts and prayers:
you will be able to help yourselves, because you will be able to VOTE.
It is said that the thought is father to the deed. But a thought without action is an
orphan. And there are far too many orphans these days.
Many of you have joined Rabbi Abramson and some of the other members of the
Interfaith Counsel on Jericho Walks and I commend you. These protests are
worthwhile expressions. But now is the time for action. Now is the time for voting.
Because protesting without voting is like whistling in the wind.
Many of us were offended that the Squirrel Hill shooter posted on social media about
his desire to shoot Jews, because he equated Jews with HIAS, a group he believes is
sympathetic to asylum seekers he concludes are objectionable because of how they
are portrayed by government leaders.
Being offended and not voting is not worth the paper that an unused ballot is printed
Please honor the memory of Jerry Rabinowitz. When he heard the shots ring out at his
synagogue, he was in a side room, safe from the bullets’ path. He left that safety and
rushed toward the bullets, because, as a physician, he thought someone might need
You don’t have to run toward the bullets as Jerry did, but you can walk toward the
ballots on his behalf, and on behalf of all those silenced by senseless hate and violence.
Most of all, you can walk the walk for yourself, for your sense of dignity and for your
sense of our shared humanity. Because then you will know that “with a good
conscience your only sure reward, with history the final judge of your deeds, you went
forward to lead the land you love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that
here on earth you truly made God’s work your own.”
If you have voted early, I applaud you. If you have not voted yet, it’s up to you. Please,
help. Please, vote.