Bombarded by news of tragedies on a daily basis, most of us tune out. But for Rebecca Fischer, 33, the images from the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting could not be forgotten.
“My colleague at the time had a son in the school, and our office administrator sent word out about what had happened even before it hit the news,” remembers Fischer, who was working as a lawyer in Manhattan
Thankfully her colleague’s son was unharmed, but Fischer, a mother herself, was shaken by how close it had hit home, as well as by the fact that she had grown up in a small town like Sandy Hook in Western Massachusetts. “I always had an aversion to guns but I finally felt compelled to do something about it.
In response to a discussion about gun violence prevention at Congregation Beth Elohim, her synagogue in Park Slope, Fischer helped create the Gun Violence Prevention Working Group. The group, which she chairs, has hosted speakers, organized text study on the issue, and conducted phone drives to reach other synagogues. Members regularly lobby legislators to enact and demand enforcement of what they view as sensible gun violence prevention laws, and Fischer has also organized Sukkot block parties in front of Starbucks to encourage the company to change its policy around “open carry” weapons.
In April 2013, Fischer joined the Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ Gun Violence Prevention Steering Committee to help implement a national Jewish campaign for the passage of comprehensive federal gun violence legislation. Since January, she’s been a board member of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, where she chairs the Child Access Prevention (CAP) Working Group and is working to pass a CAP bill, which will impose penalties on any gun owner in New York State who does not keep his weapon safe from the reach of children.
“I’ve heard tragic stories from parents from all different communities who have lost their children to accidental gun violence in other parents’ homes, or from gun violence on the street because of gang warfare,” said Fischer, who is expecting her second child. “It was Sandy Hook that bought me to this movement, but it’s not the only thing that keeps me here.”
The voice: Though her 4-year-old son criticizes her singing, Fischer starred in several college musicals.