Miami: “It Was Like Yom Kippur, No Empty Seats In All The Shuls”

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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)

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“The best way to understand how “Jewish” Surfside is is simply to stroll along Collins Avenue and count the shuls,” Rav Leibel Groner, the head of the Chevra Kadisha in Miami told Yated Ne’eman.

Lists with the names of the missing and their names for tefillah were hung in every shul in the area, which were all filled to capacity on Shabbos.

So many mispallelim showed up at The Shul, which is close to Champlain Towers, that two security guards stationed themselves at the entrance and turned people away. Fortunately, there are more shuls on the next street.

“It felt like Yom Kippur, there wasn’t one empty place in all the shuls,” Rav Groner said.

Silence reigned in The Shul. One Jew, Ada, who is not yet frum, said tearfully that she just had to show up for davening. “We felt like this when we heard about the Meron tragedy, but now this happened at home.”

Ada said that on the night of the disaster she heard a boom but didn’t think it was anything unusual. “Whoever lives on Collins Avenue is used to it. We’re on Miami Beach – there’s no day or night. But then we heard more and more police sirens and realized that something terrible happened.”

Ada said that she knows several people who live in the condos that collapsed. “Everyone goes to the same shul. In this community, even if you don’t really know someone, you recognize them.”

Grand Beach Hotel in Surfside, located on Miami Beach, has morphed from a place where people used to stand on the balconies to watch the sunset to a place where families sit and daven for a yeshuah, the Yated report said.

The hotel is housing dozens of families, Jews and non-Jews. It has been transformed into a semi-fortress, with security guards preventing anyone who doesn’t belong from entering the crowded lobby, where family members are waiting for the unknown. Tefillos are held in the hotel, with Shacharis, Mincha, and Maariv minyanim in the lobby full of people with red eyes, davening fervently.

One of the rooms on the second floor of the hotel has been turned into a counseling center. In the next room, DNA samples are being taken to identify bodies.

Some family members still cling to hope and refuse to enter the DNA room, as they continue to daven for a neis.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

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