Reform Jewish Movement Responds to School Shooting in South Florida

For Immediate Release
February 15, 2018

WASHINGTON – In response to yesterday’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which left at least 17 people dead and many more injured, Reform Jewish leaders issued the following statements: 

Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism:

“We are heartbroken by the tragic news from Parkland. A former student, armed with a weapon similar to those used in war zones, transformed a place of learning and community into a place of death and destruction. Our hearts ache for the victims, their loved ones, and the entire Parkland community.

“Enough is enough. This is the eighteenth school shooting in our country so far this year. No other country in the world tolerates this level of deadly slaughter. Sandy Hook. Orlando. Las Vegas. Sutherland Springs. The many other attacks that have left families forever shattered by loss. And now Parkland. Until our elected officials stop issuing empty calls for thoughts and prayers and start protecting all Americans, we are left to wonder which community will be the next one added to this dreadful list.”

Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism:

“How do people of faith respond when the unthinkable happens again? When what should be unimaginable no longer is? What is our response to the question of how a good God could let this happen to anyone? To some of our very dearest. To young people and their families.  No one can speak for the Holy One but I find it impossible to hold God responsible for this callous slaughter.

“Rather, I can imagine the Holy One sobbing along with us, distraught over the senseless bloodshed we’ve collectively allowed to happen. Human care for one another, perhaps Divinely inspired, is what is desperately needed right now.

“What's also needed is action. While every person of conscience must be shocked and outraged by the frequency of these horrific mass shootings, no person of intelligence can be surprised.

“There was no reason to expect this shooting at this time and in this place, but there was every reason to believe that violence like this would be unleashed again. And again and again until we take meaningful action.”

Zachary Herrmann, President of NFTY – the Reform Jewish Youth Movement

“Yesterday's shooting in Florida has caused shockwaves throughout our Movement. We have always turned to help those in need in the wake of such horrific events, but now we find ourselves needing to support our own community.

“Many of the teens affected by the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were known closely by our participants and alumni. Our hearts go out to each and every person who is grieving today. We are angry and devastated that we have to mourn our peers, who went to school yesterday on an ordinary day, like many NFTY teens, but didn’t come home.

“Gun violence prevention is a long-standing priority of the Reform Jewish Youth Movement, and in light of this tragic event, we call on not only our Jewish peers but all teens to strengthen their commitment to this effort.”


The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 2,000 Reform rabbis. Visit for more.

Media Contact:
Jenna Galper,, 202-387-2800