Three students who survived the Florida school massacre joined about 2,500 other Jewish teens for an annual Chabad youth summit in Brooklyn on Sunday — prompting everyone there to make mitzvah pledges in memory of those killed.
“I’m going to light some candles for my friend Gina, and I’m going to make challah [bread] every week,” said 14-year-old Lauren Berg, whose friend Gina Montalto was killed during the Valentine’s Day bloodbath.
Berg was one of about a dozen students who traveled from Florida to the 10th annual Chabad Teen International CTeen meeting at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. She and two schoolmates from Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS in Parkland, Fla., which was targeted by alleged gunman Nikolas Cruz, attended the event.
Maverick Reynolds, a 15-year-old freshman from Stoneman Douglas, said the summit was “really important” for his healing.
“It helps me see that everybody actually cares and wants to help out,’’ the teen said. “It’s nice to see how everyone is like sticking together and being stronger together after the experience.”
Another freshman who survived the school shooting, Christopher Branum, said he was honored to attend be at the Brooklyn event.
“We will not let this [violence] stand,” the 15-year-old said. “I’m proud to be apart of this” summit.
Rabbi Shaya Denburg, director of CTeen in Coral Springs, Fla., brought a group from the state to the convention for the first time this year.
“Now it’s not about going to New York for a weekend; it’s about going to a place with other kids their age who will support and encourage them, and hopefully, provide strength to move forward,” the rabbi told Chabad.org.
Cruz is accused of opening fire on his former campus earlier this month, killing 17 students and teachers.