DC synagogue display calls attention to gun violence

WASHINGTON — For the second straight year, a local synagogue has put up an attention-grabbing display to coincide with the Jewish High Holy Days.

Two-hundred-five T-shirts have been placed on T-shaped poles on the grounds of Temple Sinai in Northwest. Each shirt carries the name, age and date of death of a 2016 victim of gun violence in the D.C. area.

The display, called a Memorial to the Lost, will remain on display through Oct. 1.

“Just the sheer number of them is pretty overwhelming,” Rabbi Hannah Goldstein said. “It takes your breath away.”

With Rosh Hashanah starting Wednesday, Goldstein said it is an appropriate time to bring attention to the issue of gun violence.

“This is a time of year when we think about our own mortality, we think about the meaning of our lives,” Goldstein said. “We also think about sins, and the things that we are apologetic for, and our misdeeds in the year past. On Yom Kippur, we talk about a communal atonement, and I think this is a moment for us to see this display, and be woken up and reminded of how many people are dying in a way that we believe is preventable.”

Goldstein said last year’s display appeared to make a big impact.

“We heard from a lot of our congregants that it really was a moving display, and it really made them think,” Goldstein said.

It also led to some tough, but important conversations between parents and kids.

“It really is also about spurring people to action,” Goldstein said. “We have an active gun violence prevention group at Temple Sinai.”

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Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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