Two Rabbis Fight For Gun Control From Pulpit — and the Heart

Joel Mosbacher and Shaul Praver Were Touched by Violence

After Sandy Hook: Rabbi Shaul Praver stood by the family of Noah Pozner following the boy’s murder in Newtown.
Forward Staff
After Sandy Hook: Rabbi Shaul Praver stood by the family of Noah Pozner following the boy’s murder in Newtown.

By Nathan Guttman

Published January 20, 2014, issue of January 24, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

In the year since 20 school children and six adults were murdered in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., the organized Jewish community has been frustrated by the inability of a paralyzed Congress to agree on new gun control regulation.

Two rabbis, however, not willing to take no for an answer, have been seeking creative ways of dealing with gun violence. Both have a deep personal attachment to the issue. And both are working on different ways to bypass federal legislation. Together they are seeking to create a national understanding about gun safety, one that will not require Washington’s stamp of approval.

Rabbi Joel Mosbacher
Rabbi Joel Mosbacher

“We’re trying to take a ‘world as it is’ approach,” said Rabbi Joel Mosbacher of Beth Haverim Shir Shalom synagogue, in Mahwah, N.J. Instead of waiting for politicians to approve tougher laws that would ban or limit gun sales, he has decided to go directly after the gun manufacturers, marshaling the power of consumers. “What I’m hearing from clergy all around is that we are all tired of performing funerals of gun victims and tired of bringing comfort to those in grief. We need to do something.”

Mosbacher knows all about this type of grief. Fifteen years ago he lost his father to gun violence. But it was the Newtown shooting that led him to take action and become one of the driving forces in a movement working to change the way guns are made and sold. “Even though I have a personal story, I needed this to start taking action,” he said. “Perhaps for the first time since my dad has been killed, I feel optimistic about bringing change.”

The December 14, 2012, shooting at the Connecticut elementary school also changed the life of Rabbi Shaul Praver of Newtown’s Congregation Adat Israel. “I took an oath to bring about a change in this culture,” said the rabbi, who stood by the family of 6-year old Noah Pozner in the days following his murder. “I’m prepared to spend the balance of my life fighting for this.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.