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Rabbi Melissa Stollman

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Closeup of a window in the shape of a Star of David

Since the shelter-in-place orders began in March, religious institutions scrambled to move their programs and worship to a virtual space. While some congregations around the country already took advantage of streaming services to offer a hybrid worship of face-to-face and online prayer, most did not. This presented quite a few challenges.

The obvious hurdle concerned the technical aspects: what virtual platform to use, what audio/visual equipment to purchase, and so on. But the more difficult task involved how to create a spiritual communal worship experience while everyone...

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Womans hands holding a Yahrzeit candle

It is hard to imagine we are now approaching the two-year anniversary of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which shattered the community in which I live – and our country at large.This event left an indelible mark on how we approach school safety and the choices we make with our children.

Just two years. It feels like the time has passed, but it hasn’t been that long at all – and we know that time does not heal all wounds.

Trauma, a loss of stabilization, feels much different than grief, the mourning of a loss. While both share similar emotions – shock,...

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Two high school girls holding gun violence prevention signs at a march

When tragedy strikes, as it did on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland, FL, many turn to their religious institutions and clergy to seek answers and comfort. Those in shock want to know “Why?” and “How could this happen to us?”

On that day and the ones that followed, Congregation Kol Tikvah in Parkland, FL, opened its doors to welcome anyone in need of shelter or a refuge from the emotional storm starting to ensue in town. Teens and parents gathered to talk, to pray, to heal, and just to sit and be together in a safe emotional space. Over...

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The author and a songleader lead morning services from the front of an outdoor bimah

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5

As I sit on the porch of my cabin, feeling the breeze pass by as the wind chime clinks, I reflect on my time at URJ Kutz Camp so far. Friends and congregants often ask, “Why do you go to the Kutz during the summer?” Located in Warwick, N.Y., it is far away from my home in Florida and is only for teens aspiring to lead or create in some way. Serving as a returning faculty member, especially this year in particular, is more than just a chance for me to teach...

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Group of students from Florida wearing MSD Strong shirts

Every other month, I write a column in our community magazine, The Parklander. This month, the subject of the article is “How far should forgiveness go?” What a tough question in light of all that has taken place during the past month in my hometown of Parkland, FL, just a mile down the road from my congregation.

I am angry. I am hurt. I am scared. I am exhausted. And, I feel helpless. How could I possibly answer this question as myself or as a communal leader?

I don’t even know where to begin in terms of forgiveness.

Do I forgive the shooter because of his mental...

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