Grieving Parkland Father Urges Actions To Make Our Schools Safer

The Pollack family became public activists and media notables not by choice, but because of personal tragedy.

Meadow Pollack, daughter of Andrew Pollack and Shara Kaplan, was a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. She was one of the victims killed on February 15th. She was 18.

“She was the baby of the family. Everyone wanted to protect her,” her cousin Jake Maisner told The Sun-Sentinel.

I recently interviewed Andrew Pollack about his daughter Meadow, school safety and how the Chabad he attends will remember Meadow.

Community | Grieving Parkland Father Urges Actions To Make Our Schools Safer

You have New York / Long Island roots. Share with our readers some background.

Both of my parent’s families came from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. My parents moved to Oceanside in Long Island. I grew up there. My father maintained a dentist office in Brooklyn until retirement and moved to Florida.

Give some background of your involvement in Judaic traditions and culture before the incident in Parkland.

We observed all the Jewish Holidays. I had a traditional Bar Mitzvah. Jewish traditions play an important part within my family’s daily routines and holiday celebrations.

Tell us how the Jewish community has responded to Meadow’s death.

We have had an amazing show of support from my rabbi, family, friends and neighbors. At the shiva we had rabbis that traveled from a such a distance and girls from Jewish schools to pay their respects. Unfortunately, many people can relate to our loss.

Community | Grieving Parkland Father Urges Actions To Make Our Schools Safer

Rabbi Avraham Friedman of Chabad of Coral Springs, a longtime family friend and mentor, has been a constant presence in the Pollack home, offering comfort and support. He has also been putting on tefillin and praying with family members, in addition to those making shiva calls, and teaching the traditional mourners’ Mishnayot each night.

Your son wore a yarmulke when meeting President Trump. Share with us some significance.

The yarmulke is a significant part of his identity and a source of comfort during this time.

“I wore it there because I’m proud to be Jewish,” Hunter Pollack told Chabad.org. “I wanted to wear my kippah in the highest office of the land. My Jewish peers in this country need to be proud of being Jewish, and that’s how we can honor Meadow’s memory as a beautiful Jewish girl.”

“I thought of Rabbi Avraham Friedman of the Chabad of Coral Springs as I walked into the Oval Office with my kippah,” said Hunter. “The tefillin, the learning, the Jewish stuff has been very comforting to me and my family.”

Community | Grieving Parkland Father Urges Actions To Make Our Schools Safer

You are building a garden in Meadow’s memory. Tell us about it. How can readers get involved?

The Chabad I currently attend donated land for an attached public park that will honor Meadow.

My rabbi, Rabbi Friedman, originally suggested it. The Chabad of Coral Springs donated the land which is adjacent to the temple to build a public park. I want a place that my princess would have loved where I can go watch children play. There is a link on www.remembermeadow.com to donate to the park.

Community | Grieving Parkland Father Urges Actions To Make Our Schools Safer

You and your family have been the most visible and vocal regarding enforcing laws of safety in our schools. How did you become the leader and do you like this sudden spotlight?

I wish this never happened. I am not interested in the spotlight. I feel a responsibility to make schools across the country safe so that this never happens again.

Community | Grieving Parkland Father Urges Actions To Make Our Schools Safer

What would you like people to know about Meadow?

Meadow was a beautiful girl inside and out. We can honor her by helping to prevent this type of tragedy in the future.

How can readers help you solve school violence?

Ask your state senators and representatives to support the Stop School Violence Act nationally. We need to first secure our schools before concerning ourselves of issues of gun control, etc.


As an educational activist, I support The Pollack’s Family efforts are educating the public, not politicizing the tragedy and helping enforcing laws on safety.

What most of the public doesn’t know is that there are many laws already in place. For multiple reasons, they are often ignored. We need to ensure these laws are followed and punish those who break them.

Nikolas Cruz’s situation involved multiple incidents and a long record of violence, suspicious mental health issues and questionable family and home circumstances. Almost every violent student has similar histories, including the failure to complete mandated reporting, follow up reports and complying with appropriate services.

Five of the seventeen murdered at Parkland were Jewish. May all of their Neshamas Have Aliyah’s and Let’s All Work Together To Protect Our Students, Staffs and School Communities.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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