Prayers at the Shul of Bal Harbour near the collapsed Champlain South Towers in Surfside, Florida

On grim July 4, Surfside locals find solace in community

Shul of Bal Harbour congregant says dedication of volunteers to search in rubble of collapsed Florida apartment block makes neighborhood special; local rabbi says this year the national holiday is more about human goodness during painful times and the importance of kindness

Reuters |
Published: 07.04.21, 16:46
Community solidarity will replace fireworks and flag-waving celebrations for the Fourth of July in a beachside Florida community where 124 people are missing and 24 confirmed dead after a condo tower collapsed.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter

  • At least one third of the dead and missing are Jewish;Israel has sent a delegation of rescue troops and mental health professionals
    Eric Ezzy Rappaport, a congregant at the Shul of Bal Harbour less than a mile from the site, described the moment as a test of the community.
    "The dedication of the thousands of volunteers shows what makes Surfside special."
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    Jewish faithful pray at the Shul of Bal Harbour near the collapsed Champlain South Towers in Surfside, Florida
    Jewish faithful pray at the Shul of Bal Harbour near the collapsed Champlain South Towers in Surfside, Florida
    Prayers at the Shul of Bal Harbour near the collapsed Champlain South Towers in Surfside, Florida
    (Photo: AP)
    Miami Beach canceled its Independence Day celebrations scheduled for Sunday out of respect for victims of the June 24 collapse in Surfside.
    The city's annual Fire on the Fourth festival had been set to take place July Fourth at 72nd Street and Collins Avenue, about a mile south of where Champlain South Towers partially collapsed.
    "This Fourth of July in Surfside will be more about a real integration of human goodness, even in a moment of pain," says congregation Rabbi Sholom Lipskar.
    "The only thing that could really benefit the affected members of the Surfside community at the present time is kindness," Lipskar said.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    An American flag flutters atop a crane at the site of a partially collapsed residential building
    An American flag flutters atop a crane at the site of a partially collapsed residential building
    An American flag flutters atop a crane at the site of a partially collapsed residential building in Florida
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Across the street from Bal Harbour, a sparsely populated beach hosted tourists.
    Braulio Miki, 45, who travels to Surfside annually from Lima, Peru to visit family, said in the wake of the disaster he had scaled back holiday weekend plans to beach time and big meals in the absence of normal festivities.
    "What's most important is that this community has all the means necessary to respond to this tragedy as soon as possible. In my country, the level of response is not quite as luxurious," says Miki, who added that his wife and two young children find it difficult to imagine how the remainder of their month-long stay will be.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    A Magen David with the words "Surfside Strong, at a memorial site near the collapsed building outside Miami
    A Magen David with the words "Surfside Strong, at a memorial site near the collapsed building outside Miami
    A Star of David inscribed with the words 'Surfside Strong' is placed at a memorial site close to the collapsed Florida building
    (Photo: AFP)
    Visitors who came for a holiday are sensitive to the tragedy.
    "Visitors seem very conscious about this building collapse and empathize in solidarity with those affected, but for their own health and safety, there isn't that much of an impact," said Samuel Artmann, Miami-Dade general manager for short-term rental company Sonder.
    Artmann made one of his properties available for people displaced by the Champlain disaster.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    A woman kneels at a memorial site created by neighbors in front of a partially collapsed residential building on Sunday
    A woman kneels at a memorial site created by neighbors in front of a partially collapsed residential building on Sunday
    A woman kneels at a memorial site created by neighbors at the partially collapsed residential building in Florida on Sunday
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Carol Jean Kier, walking hand-in-hand on the beach with her husband Phillip, found herself taking stock of what is most important ahead of a weekend of reflection.
    Kier said she had been but was no longer planning a festive celebration for her 77th birthday on Monday amid the "miasma of sadness and tragedy."
    She and her husband moved to Surfside five years ago from Chicago.
    5 צפייה בגלריה
    Rescue teams use jack hammers to chip through debris and rubble at site of collapsed building in Surfside
    Rescue teams use jack hammers to chip through debris and rubble at site of collapsed building in Surfside
    Rescue teams use jack hammers to chip through debris and rubble at the site of the collapsed building in Surfside
    (Photo: AP)
    "We passed the Champlain Towers every day as we walked the beach. To think of those souls lost amid our path just brings me such uncertainty about what happens now, especially ahead of the looming storm that is expected later this weekend," said Kier, speaking of Hurricane Isla that is poised to lash out on Florida as early as Monday.
    "I hate uncertainty, but sometimes you just have to live with it."

    Talkbacks for this article 0