Rabbi Tuly Weisz, the head of Israel365, traveled to Florida to lead prayers and comfort the people affected by the collapse of the Champlain Towers in Surfside, Florida where at least 24 people are confirmed to have been killed.
Rabbi Weisz also checked in with the IDF’s Home Front Command and United Hatzalah delegations that were helping in the rescue efforts. Chaplains from all denominations were on hand to give spiritual support to friends and family of the victims and those still missing.
“It was both powerful and heartbreaking to witness the destruction up close,” Rabbi Weisz said. “At the same time, there were moments of beauty as the entire community came together in solidarity and grief.”
United Hatzalah on the scene
Rabbi Weisz spoke to Raphael Poch and Jennifer Maltz from United Hatzalah who provided unique expertise learned in Israel for providing psychotherapy treatment to the scene.
Upon arrival in Miami, United Hatzalah’s team of six specialists from its Psychotrauma and Crisis Response Unit (PCRU) met with local community leaders in order to map out the needs of the community. Shortly thereafter, the team joined a group meeting over Zoom that included nearly two-dozen leaders of relief organizations and other social workers and therapists in order to create a unified plan of action that would allow the organizations to work together and support one another without duplicating the work of another organization or group. The meeting was run by Miriam Singer, the President & Chief Executive Officer of the Jewish Community Services of South Florida (JCSFL). Participants in the meeting included leaders of local synagogues, community leaders, representatives from Cadena, Chai Lifeline, Mt. Sinai Hospital, JCSFL, Miami Jewish Health, The Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Chabad, the Children’s Bereavement Center, Repair The World, Hatzalah of South Florida, and others.
“The worst thing operationally is to create a situation where dozens of care and assistance groups come in and all start trying to do therapy on a single individual or a few different individuals but end up traumatizing them, due to the number of times that person would have to repeat the story over and over and over again to people from different organizations. This would create a secondary trauma for the person instead of helping them. This is why we must coordinate and map out who needs help and where before we dive in,” said Dovie Maisel, the Vice of Operations for United Hatzalah and leader of the mission currently in Surfside. “The tragedy that these people lived through is one that for many can be incredibly debilitating. What we need to ensure is that we are treating them and not causing more harm,” Maisel added.
I am totally heartbroken.
Today, I travelled to #Surfside FL with my friend Rabbi Tuly Weisz to pray for those missing, their families & first responders still hoping to save lives in the rubble of the Champlain Towers.
Will you PLEASE & urgently pray with me? pic.twitter.com/hOGa2asSBb
— Rev. Johnnie Moore ن (@JohnnieM) July 1, 2021
Volunteers were bringing people food that was being made especially for them at the local community center which was turned into a makeshift kosher kitchen working around the clock to provide over 3,000 hot meals, water, coffee, and snacks to all the families of the missing people at the hotel, as well as to all of the first responders at the ground of the collapse and around the premises.
121 still missing
The death toll at the Surfside Champlain Towers South condominium rose to 24 while the search for 121 others goes on. The 12-story building partially collapsed suddenly in the middle of the night on June 24, bringing down 55 of the 136 units. The search efforts were halted on Saturday as officials plan for the demolition of the building. Engineers are assessing the stability of the building.
The structure was demolished around 10:30 PM Sunday in advance of Tropical Storm Elsa’s arrival that night. Experts feared that the storm’s high winds would topple the structure.