One of the Jews missing in the collapse of Champlain Towers is Ilan Naibryf, a University of Chicago student who is the president of the university’s Chabad student board.
Ilan, 21, who was in Surfside for a funeral for just one night, was staying on the eighth floor of the 12-story Champlain Towers, Chicago’s WGN9 News said.
Ilan was born in Argentina. As a child and young teen, he was an active member of the Jewish community in Greensboro, North Carolina and attended the American Hebrew Academy for his freshman year of high school before moving to Hawaii with his family.
He had just finished his third year at the University of Chicago, where he majored in physics and molecular engineering and was very involved in the Jewish community on campus.
“I always listen to the news, and when you see some tragedy happen and you hear all these people say, Oh, this child was perfect.’ Well, he was perfect. He is one of them,” Ilan’s mother, Ronit Felszer, said.
“The messages [from Hawaii and friends] are helpful. I read them at night, the tears, our nights are very, very long, and our mornings are very, very difficult,” Felszer explained.
“The outpour from Hawaii has been beyond, and Ilan’s heart definitely remains in Hawaii. I have to say that he was planning to go. He had a ticket for the 11th of July to visit friends,” she said while crying.
Ronit said that she’s doing her best to stay strong but the family is preparing for the worst. “We’re of Jewish faith. We’re not religious, but there’s a period after someone passes that we call Shiva, which counts for the seven days where you have to mourn for your lost one, and we feel our Shiva started before we have some kind of closing,” Felszer said. “So four days we’ve been sitting home mourning. We know as parents that there isn’t a grieving period, it will be forever, and we understand we will come out of this. We are a family. We have two amazing daughters.
Ilan’s father, Carlos Naibryf, visited the scene of the collapse on Sunday. He didn’t think his wife and daughters should go but Felzer told Khon2 News that she felt she had to:
“And they realize now what I already knew, the building was totally destroyed,” said Naibryf. “It’s heart-wrenching, it’s heart-wrenching,” Felszer added.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)