“This is a small community, where nearly half of the population is Jewish, so everyone has been touched by what has happened,” Rabbi Shuey Biston, director of outreach and development of Chabad of Parkland, told Chabad.org. “The phones at Chabad have been ringing off the wall as people come for emotional, spiritual, and material support.”
Of the 17 confirmed deaths, the rabbis believe that at least six were Jewish, including an adult security guard. Several of those killed were participants at the Chabad centers in Parkland or nearby Coral Springs.
Biston says that Chabad rabbis have been working closely with Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, who is a member of Chabad, to ensure that the bodies of the Jewish dead are released for burial as soon as possible in accordance with Jewish tradition.
Chabad has also enlisted the help of several therapists, who have volunteered to counsel students. The therapists are religious Jews, so they are uniquely positioned to provide both clinical and religious support.