Anger to Action: Youth Organizing Against Gun Violence Training in Montclair, NJ

JOIN is deeply moved by the youth organizing and mobilizing nationwide in response to gun violence. On March 11, JOIN’s New Jersey Clergy Fellowship cohort, led by Rabbi Elliott Tepperman, sponsored a community organizing training to support teens from their synagogues and other congregations who were organizing actions including school walkouts and the March for Our Lives.

A diverse group of 40 young people from throughout New Jersey gathered at the First Congregational Church of Montclair. It was multiracial and multifaith with Jews, Christians and Muslims participating. The ground rules asked that the 12 adults who also attended leave the conversation, organizing and strategizing to the teens.

In their evaluation at the end of the training, the teens used words to describe their feelings like: equipped, powerful, energized, needed, and heard.

We’d like to acknowledge Rabbi Elliott Tepperman and Rabbi Ariann Weitzman of Bnai Keshet, Montclair, NJ, Frank McMillan of New Jersey Together, and Archange Antoine of Faith in New Jersey for leading the training, managing to connect and cover a ton of material on how to take action, build power and prepare for a specific action all in just a couple of hours. Thanks to Rev. Ann Ralosky for hosting, and to our NJ Clergy Fellow cohort, Rabbis Joel Abrahams, Faith Joy Dantowitz, Jesse Olitzky, and Jen Schlosberg for helping organize the event and generate turnout. Special thanks to lead JOIN trainer Jeannie Appleman and the Do Not Stand Idly By initiative to stem gun violence, one of the key initiatives that the NJ Clergy cohort is engaged in.

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