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Israel sends help to Surfside’s Jewish community after building collapse

FILE PHOTO Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said he was praying for the victims of the building collapse in Miami-Dade County's town of Surfside.  (AP File Photo Jan. 29, 2020/Markus Schreiber)
FILE PHOTO Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said he was praying for the victims of the building collapse in Miami-Dade County's town of Surfside. (AP File Photo Jan. 29, 2020/Markus Schreiber) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

SURFSIDE, Fla. – Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said on Friday that he was praying for the victims of the tragedy in Miami-Dade County’s town of Surfside.

Rivlin tasked Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid with sending aid to the site of the tragedy at the Champlain Towers South and to the Jewish community.

“We hope for the recovery of the survivors and send heartfelt condolences to those who have lost family members,” Rivlin wrote on Twitter.

Members of the Israel Defense Force’s Home Front Command search-and-rescue team traveled from the Middle Eastern country to work on finding survivors in the rubble of what is left of the 12-story building.

Volunteers with Hatzalah, an emergency medical service organization that serves Jewish communities around the world, were also at the site. They offered their assistance to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel.

As of Saturday morning, Miami-Dade officials said there were 159 people who remained unaccounted for, including a group of Orthodox Jews from Russia. Maor Elbaz-Starinsky, the acting consul general of Israel in Miami, said more than two dozen were Jewish and had links to Israel.

“To see the agony, the pain, the worry ... we see also how hope slowly ... diminishes,” Elbaz-Starinsky said about the time he was spending with relatives in need of support.

Ronit Felszer, of the Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus, had Shabbat dinner Friday evening, while he was waiting on updates on Ilan Naibryf, a physics and molecular engineering student, and his girlfriend Deborah Berezdivin. The couple was at the Champlain Towers South and remained unaccounted for.

“Never, never, never in my life or in the countries I have lived, have I experienced the generosity of South Florida Jewish Community,” Felszer wrote on Facebook on Friday. “You are one of a kind. Friends, friends of Friends, friends of friends, and their friend of friends. I think we have enough food for the entire month.”

Berezdivin was a member of The Shul Jewish Community Center. Rabbi Sholom Lipskar said more than 13 members of The Shul in Surfside remained unaccounted for. They had received truckloads of donations for the families in need.

The Times of Israel reported Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett deployed a team that includes Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai, who plans to travel to Surfside on Saturday night.

Family reunification center

The town was hosting those who are waiting for information about unaccounted relatives after the partial collapse at Champlain Towers South at the community center at 9301 Collins Ave. On Friday, they moved the relatives to the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside at 9449 Collins Ave. Levine Cava said relatives had two daily briefings.

For information or to report the status of a loved one who is unaccounted for, call 305-614-1819 or 305-993-1071.

Complete coverage

An Orthodox Jewish man walks inside the Shul of Bal Harbour where worshippers were praying after members of the community were reported missing in the partial collapse of a 12-story beachfront condo, Thursday, June 24, 2021, in the Surfside area of Miami.(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Coverage on Friday

Jewish faithful pray at the Shul of Bal Harbour after members of the community were reported missing in the partial collapse of a 12-story beachfront condo, Thursday, June 24, 2021, in the Surfside area of Miami.(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Coverage on Thursday


About the Authors:

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.

Christian De La Rosa joined Local 10 News in April 2017 after spending time as a reporter and anchor in Atlanta, San Diego, Orlando and Panama City Beach.