25 September 2013

To Cerberus Capital Management on 9.24.13

Remarks Delivered Outside Cerberus Capital Management
Rabbi Andy Bachman
September 24, 2013

Cerberus Owns a 94% Stake in Freedom Group, the largest conglomerate producer of guns and ammunition in the United States totally nearly $900 million.  After the Newtown killings, Cerberus CEO Stephen Feinberg promised to sell the Cerberus stake in Freedom Group but 9 months later that has yet to happen.

I was with a group of advocates like Moms Demand Action, the New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, and the Newtown Action Alliance to hold Mr. Feinberg to his word.


Good afternoon.  I am Rabbi Andy Bachman and I serve Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, New York but today I speak on behalf of countless members of faith communities across this city and nation who are demanding serious and meaningful gun laws in our country.

Today, during the Jewish festival of Sukkot, where our people celebrates its freedom from slavery and the fragility and blessing of life, we are reminded of the need to stay true to our word to build a safe and just world.  During this sacred season, we Jews read from the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes, where we learn the essential teaching that טוב שם משמן טוב--a good name is better than fine oil.  We stand here, outside Cerberus Capital Management, in this season, to ask you, Stephen Feinberg, to reclaim your 'good name,' stay true to your word, and divest Cerberus Capital Management from its ownership in the Freedom Group, which is responsible for nearly $900 million in gun sales in this country.

Ecclesiastes also teaches us that "a season is set for everything, there is a time for everything under heaven."  There is a time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot; a time to slay and a time to heal; a time to weep and a time to laugh; to seek and lose; for war and peace.  But what of those whose time came too soon?  Who fell in the split second, at the bullets' blast, between light and darkness, between life and death?

How do we honor those beloved fallen?  How do we keep their good names alive with the love and respect they deserve?

Ecclesiastes asks, after this litany of everything in its time, everything in its season:  "What value, then, can the man of affairs get from what he earns?"

And so we ask you, Stephen Feinberg, we ask you today, what value do you really get from hundreds of millions in profits earned by the blood of innocents?  What value do you get from the profits of weapons made to kill quickly, efficiently, and without feeling?  What value do you get from assault weapons, dead children, grieving mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers?

We stand here today to ask you to redeem your good name, Stephen Feinberg.  טוב שם משמן טוב--a good name is better than fine oil.  Is better than profits; is better than money; is better than gain over loss of life.

The prophet Micah has great advice for us.  Preaching in Jerusalem more than two thousand years ago, Micah told us that God will judge those who walk along the paths of Divine Instruction.  And what is that Instruction according to Micah?  "They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.  Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore."

In a peaceful world with proper Instruction, Micah imagined "everyone under his grapevine, everyone under her fig tree."  For us, this means a classroom for every child; a job for every mother and father; a home, a meal, a bed for all in need.

טוב שם משמן טוב--Redeem your good name, Stephen Feinberg.  Invest your profits in people's lives, not guns that kill.  Invest in young hearts and minds, not bullets and bombs.  Not in the violent and darkened past of mankind's evil ways but in the bright light and hopeful horizon of peaceful present day.

Redeem your good name, Stephen Feinberg.  Redeem your good name.


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