Parkland survivors headline rally at Livingston synagogue

Parkland survivors headline rally at Livingston synagogue

By:  Johanna Ginsburg


Less than two weeks ago, Harris T. Jaffe spent two-and-a-half hours hiding in a closet during the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., wondering if the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, 19, would find him. On Sunday, the 16-year-old was behind a podium at Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, calling for legislative action and telling more than 2,300 people his story of survival in a massacre that left 17 of his classmates and teachers dead.

A number of students in attendance were considering attending the March 24 “March for Our Lives” national rally in Washington, D.C., a student-led demonstration against mass shootings. Menendez acknowledged a cadre of students in the audience who are among the organizers.

Menendez said he wasn’t surprised that the Jewish community was responsible for organizing the February rally, “given the Jewish community’s commitment to tikkun olam, repairing the world.” The senator, who held in his hand the “Assault Weapons Ban of 2017” bill he and several of his Democratic colleagues had introduced in November, spent most of his time on stage focusing on three policies that he said will be crucial to move gun reform forward: banning the sale of high-capacity magazines, reinstating the federal ban on assault weapons, and opposing the NRA-sponsored “Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act of 2017,” which has already passed in the House and would allow concealed carry permits in one state to be used in others. The crowd murmured loudly when Menendez took on President Donald Trump’s recent suggestion to arm school teachers, even offering bonuses to those adept at using firearms.

“I haven’t met many teachers who want to be the ones charged with assessing the threat, firing the gun, and taking a life in front of their own students,” he said.

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