This Jewish Student Organizer Is Fighting Against Gun Violence and School Militarization

Rosa Lander (right) speaking at JFREJ's Purim Carnival and March.

Rosa Lander (right) speaking at JFREJ’s Purim Carnival and March.

It would be inaccurate to categorize gun violence, particularly in schools, as a new issue. Though the Parkland shooting last month has galvanized a large, primarily youth-led movement against gun accessibility, the United States has a long and deadly relationship with firearms. Though the last 20 years has seen a surge of mass shootings, deadly force has long existed in state-sponsored institutions. It is vital that those involving themselves in anti-gun activism recognize the foundations laid by groups like Black Lives Matter, while simultaneously acknowledging the role that police forces play in perpetuating institutionalized violence.

With these facts in mind, and the Parkland shooting still fresh, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), in collaboration with the Aftselakhis Spectacle Committee, co-organized their Purim Carnival. Officially titled the Kids’ Purim Carnival of Resistance and Parade (co-sponsored by Kolot Chayeinu, the Workmen’s Circle, and Repair the World NYC), carnival attendees—primarily school-aged children—played justice-themed games and painted brightly colored signs before taking off on foot together for New York Democratic Senator Simcha Felder’s office in New York City. (Felder caucuses with the Republicans in the State Senate.) Staff writer Justine Orlovsky-Schnitzler called one of the student organizers, Rosa Lander, to discuss how the event transpired and what broader impact the students hoped to make.