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Gun Responsibility

Ballot Initiative I-594 to institute universal background checks including for private sales in Washington passed by an overwhelming majority of 59.7% while the counter-initiative that would have prevented background checks in Washington State failed resoundingly. Leading up to the election, Reform congregations in the state – including Temple B’nai Torah –  marched with a diverse group of interfaith communities in the Seattle area  from Temple de Hirsch Sinai to the King County Administration Building to cast their ballots

Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center for the Union for Reform Judaism, wrote in the Huffington Post: “Each of us – gun owner or not- has an obligation to combat this national epidemic. As Reform Jews, we feel a particular responsibility. We take to heart the words we read in the book of Exodus that command: ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ ”

Keeping abreast of current advocacy work underway in our state and nation by Jewish organizations, we plan to continue our own discussions and advocacy in this area.

Here is some current legislation that we are tracking:

  • SB 5038 is about the prohibition of open carry of weapons at public demonstrations and the State Capitol. The House and Senate are currently working out a concurrence vote in which the two houses settle their differences. Once this is accomplished, the bill will go to Governor Inslee for signature.
  • The Washington State Department of Commerce has created an Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention. The Office will direct its efforts at the highest risk populations of perpetrators and victims in the highest risk communities.
  • If you would like to learn more about Gun Violence Prevention, you can contact the Alliance for Gun Responsibility at: gunresponsibility.org"

In Loving Memory of Pamela Waechter, Z"l

by Michele Rosen, Jewish Women's Archive

Pam Waechter, of blessed memory, Director of Annual Giving at the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and beloved member of Temple B'nai Torah, died in the line of service. Tragically she was gunned down in her office by a madman who spewed anti-Israeli sentiments. She leaves behind two beloved children, a devoted group of loving friends, and a heartbroken community.

Pam was raised a Lutheran in Minneapolis. She became a Jew by choice when she married her husband, Bill Waechter. The couple moved to Seattle and later divorced.

Pam was a woman who just did what she said she was going to do. Her accomplishments were many: President of Temple B'nai Torah, Regional Officer of the Reform Movement, early organizer and supporter the Jewish Family Service's Food Bank, cook for a women's shelter, Director of Outreach at the Jewish Federation, Event Coordinator for the Jewish Federation, and Director of Annual Giving at the Federation.

Pam's approach to work mirrored her approach to life. She was direct and comforting. If something did not work out, try another door—another avenue. Be calm, yet be persistent. Look people in the eye and let them know they are valued.

We are shocked and very sad in Seattle to be the target of such hate. And we need Pam Waechter to help us through these terrible days.

May her memory and her generous spirit remain with us all.

Wed, July 28 2021 19 Av 5781