‘Devastated’ US Jewish Community Extends Prayers as Number of Missing in Miami Condo Collapse Rises to 159
US Jewish groups extended prayers and condolences for those impacted by the Thursday building collapse in a heavily Jewish Miami suburb on Thursday, as the confirmed death toll rose to four and with rescuers still working to find as many as 159 people unaccounted for.
Overnight, three bodies were recovered from the wreckage of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, as the number of those deemed missing leapt from the 99 reported on Thursday.
Chabad of South Broward in Hallandale Beach told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that at least 34 of the missing are Jewish, while local Jewish groups circulated some of their names for inclusion in prayers.
Leaders of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations said Friday they were “devastated” by the tragedy.
“We are grateful for the ongoing leadership and support shown by the local and broader Jewish community for those impacted by this tragedy,” said Conference Chair Dianne Lob, CEO William Daroff and Vice Chair Malcolm Hoenlein in a statement. “As we continue to monitor this developing situation, the American Jewish community prays for the recovery of the victims, and extends condolences to those who lost loved ones.”
Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, said in a statement, “Our prayers go to those missing with the hope that they will be rescued quickly and to those injured, we extend our hope for a speedy recovery. Our sincerest condolences to those who have lost loved ones. May their memory be for a blessing!”
Local rescue authorities said that about 35 people had so far been rescued from the part of the building that remained intact, and another two from the rubble.
On Friday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the Support Surfside hardship fund, established by Coral Gables Community Foundation, the Miami Heat basketball team and other groups.
“Our hearts break for those affected by last night’s building collapse in Florida,” tweeted B’nai B’rith International, sharing an online fund created by the Shul of Bal Harbour to help victims and their families — which by Friday afternoon had raised over $600,000 by more than by 5,400 donors.
Another assistance fund was established by the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, which is also offering chaplaincy support, crisis counseling and social services.
“Horrified at the reports and images of the apartment building collapse in #Surfside, and our deepest appreciation to @MiamiBeachPD and @MiamiBeachFire for their rescue efforts,” tweeted the Anti-Defamation League of Florida on Thursday.
The American Jewish Committee said it was “saddened by the devastating building collapse in Surfside, Miami. Our hearts are with the people of Miami at this difficult time and we extend our condolences to all those affected by this tragic event.”
On Friday, President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Florida, and directed federal aid to be sent there.