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January 25, 2024

Pressley, Interfaith Coalition Hold Vigil for Lives Lost in Gaza and Israel, Renew Calls for Ceasefire

Since Oct. 7, Over 25,000 Palestinians, 1,200 Israelis Killed, and Over 100 Hostages Still Held Captive by Hamas

Vigil Was Largest Public Gathering of Clergy & Faith Leaders for Ceasefire in Greater Boston Since Oct. 7

Video (Facebook) | Photos (Dropbox)

BOSTON — Today at the steps of the Boston Public Library, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) joined a coalition of interfaith clergy and faith leaders for a vigil to mourn the tens of thousands of Palestinians, Israelis, and innocent civilians killed since October 7th, and to renew calls for a ceasefire to save lives, return all hostages, and deliver humanitarian aid to the region. The vigil was the largest biggest public gathering of clergy and faith leaders for a ceasefire in Greater Boston since the brutal Hamas attack on October 7.

Joining Rep. Pressley at the vigil was Rev. Carrie Ballenger, University Lutheran and Lutheran Chaplain at Harvard; Rabbi Rebecca Hornstein, Boston Workers Circle Executive Director; Imam Ahmad Barry of the Islamic Institute of Boston; Reverend Darrell Hamilton of the First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain; Hadar Ahuvia, Rabbinical Student at Hebrew College; Rev. Willie Bodrick, II of the Twelfth Baptist Church; Rabbi Becky Silverstein; Rev. Otto Concannon of First Parish Malden; Rev. Elizabeth Carrier-Ladd, First Parish Dorchester; and hundreds of faith leaders and community members from across Greater Boston.

“There is something incredibly powerful about collective, multi-faith prayers for peace,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “I was proud to stand in solidarity with this diverse coalition of faith leaders to mourn the lives lost, turn our grief into action, and reiterate our calls for an indefinite, lasting ceasefire to save lives, release all hostages, and ensure the swift delivery of humanitarian aid. As God’s children and for the sake of our shared humanity, we must never be silent in the face of injustice.”

“From both Muslim and Jewish tradition, we learn just as one life lost is a whole world lost, one life saved is a whole world saved. We have lost over 25,000 worlds, and each day that goes on without a ceasefire, we will lose more and more,” said Rabbi Rebecca Hornstein, Executive Director of the Boston Workers Circle.

“I am here today because I grieve for the deaths of each and every person – mothers, children, journalists, doctors, ministers, service workers – who have been killed indiscriminately in this violence. I grieve for the individuals and families, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, made to suffer by the policies and actions of their nations. I grieve because the Church has been complicit to the evils of racism, capitalism, militarism, and settler colonialism. I grieve because Jesus grieves,” said Rev. Darrell Hamilton, II Executive Pastor of Operations and Resource Management First Baptist Church in Jamaica Plain.

“The will of the people by our nature is toward peace and justice and hope. May God give us all the strength to move the discourse toward peace and resolution and hope. May our leaders feel the power of all of us behind them when they make these bold decisions,” said Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations – Massachusetts.

“I still have hope because I believe in the Gospel of Matthew that says, blessed are the peacemakers because they shall be called the children of God. And we are the children of God. We have a moral obligation and a collective righteous mandate to save lives right now. Ceasefire now,” said Rev. Willie Bodrick II, Twelfth Baptist Church.

“As I have been mourning, I have I am listening to Israeli survivors of massacre on October 7, some whose families are still in Gaza, who had the courage three months ago to beg that the memories and lives of their loved ones not be used to extract revenge. And they continue to ask for their memories and lives instead to be raised for a blessing for peace. I am grateful and honored to join everyone here and Representative Pressley, in praying and acting for a just peace beginning with a ceasefire now,” said Hadar Ahuvia, Rabbinical student and member Rabbis for Ceasefire.

Footage from the vigil can be found here, and photos are here.

Last week, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Rep. Pressley and over 100 clergy and faith leaders sent a joint statement calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Throughout this conflict, Rep. Pressley has been a vocal and consistent advocate of diplomacy, de-escalation, and saving lives.

  • Rep. Pressley joined Congresswoman Haley Stevens (D-MI) and their colleagues on a resolution condemning Hamas’ brutal attack and hostage-taking, and demanding Hamas immediately release all hostages.
  • Rep. Pressley joined Reps. Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), James P. McGovern (MA-02), and 50 colleagues on a letter condemning the terrorist attacks by Hamas on the people of Israel, calling for Israeli military operations to follow the rules of international humanitarian law, and continuing to work toward peace in the region.
  • Rep. Pressley joined her colleagues in announcing a resolution urging the Biden Administration to call for an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and Gaza, to send humanitarian aid and assistance to Gaza, and to save as many lives as possible. She later joined her colleagues and a multi-faith, multiracial coalition of faith leaders and organizers for a prayer and press conference to renew their calls for a ceasefire. Rep. Pressley also joined dozens of rabbis and Members of Congress for a press conference to renew calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.
  • Rep. Pressley delivered a floor speech in which she condemned antisemitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of hate on college campuses.
  • Rep. Pressley joined a coalition of nearly 100 interfaith clergy and faith leaders on a joint statement on Martin Luther King Jr. Day calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.
  • Rep. Pressley joined Reps. Grace Meng (D-NY), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), and nearly 150 colleagues in urging the State Department to use all tools at its disposal help get Americans out of Israel and back home to the United States. She applauded the State Department for heeding her calls on October 12, 2023 and continues to press for the urgent evacuation of Americans in Gaza.
  • Rep. Pressley issued a statement following the safe evacuation of Massachusetts constituents Wafaa and Abood Okal and their one-year-old Yousef from Gaza.
  • Rep. Pressley and Rep. Jamie Raskinled a group of 60 House lawmakers in urging the State Department to affirm the United States’ strong opposition to the forced and permanent displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, and to support an increase in humanitarian aid to the region.
  • Rep. Pressley joined Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14), Mark Pocan (WI-2), Betty McCollum (MN-4) and 20 of their colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden, asking him to support a bilateral ceasefire in Gaza to protect the one million children living there.