Shooting in Florida High School Strikes Jewish Community

“Hashem is close to the brokenhearted; those crushed in spirit He delivers.” Psalms 34:19 (The Israel Bible™)

Several Jewish students were counted among the wounded and killed in a shooting rampage on Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Broward County, Florida, according to a report by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA).

The local ABC affiliate Local 10 News has already reported that one of the Jewish students at the school, Jaime Guttenberg passed away.  Another 16 victims including both students and adults were said by police to have been killed as well.

Rabbi Bradd Boxman of the Kol Tikvah congregation, said he knew that there were at least four Jewish high school students among the wounded, three of whom go to his synagogue. He said that many of his congregants were alumni of the high school.

“A huge number went to that school,” Rabbi Boxman said according to JTA.

Boxman added that his congregation has become a place of “refuge” for those dealing with trauma from the incident.

“Within our own community we have many mental health professionals to rely on,” he noted.

“We just pulled together as a community, the surrounding congregations, to be there for our kids and families, getting the kids to have an opportunity to speak to their experience and begin the healing process in the community,” JTA quoted Geri Pomerantz, the president of Kol Tikvah, as saying.

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Jonathan Kaplan, the rabbi of the nearby Beth Chai congregation, confirmed that one student from his congregation was dead and another was missing. As with Boxman, his congregation is also dealing with trauma. Kaplan had met up that evening with parents who reunited with their children at a local Marriott.

“It’s chaos here and devastation,” he told JTA. “Everyone is just waiting and praying. No words can describe what happened here.”

For Thursday, Beth Chai has scheduled a service of healing and Kol Tikvah has plans to be open for families.

The gunman, named as Nikolas Cruz was armed with a semiautomatic rifle during the shooting. Local authorities said that Cruz had attempted to blend in with students fleeing the school. Police caught up with him by Coconut Creek, a few miles away from the school. He was subsequently taken into custody after first being taken to the hospital.