SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - The Shul of Bal Harbour has kept its doors open to help those affected by the partial collapse of a condominium building in Surfside, and officials said more than a dozen members of the synagogue are among the missing.
Friday evening, 7News cameras captured members of the synagogue outside of the house of worship.
For the past two days, the synagogue has been collecting donations.
Thursday afternoon, 7News cameras captured volunteers opening a truck full of supplies outside the synagogue.
“It feels good to do something, no matter how small it is,” said Ryan Rea, who donated supplies.
“We Jewish people have learned through history that we live with almost impossible hope,” said Rabbit Sholom Lipskar with the Shul of Bal Harbour.
Thursday night, representatives from the Miami Marlins and Sedano’s Supermarkets arrived at the synagogue with supplies, including food, water and personal hygiene kits.
Those providing donations said the goal is to give survivors a sense of normalcy.
“Basic needs that you really don’t think about, but when you’re displaced from your home, they’re important,” said Juan Martinez with the Miami Marlins.
By Friday morning, the synagogue was flooded by supplies, so organizers paused the collection for the time being.
Cellphone video captured supplies, including clothes, shoes and blankets, being sorted into different piles on tables inside the synagogue.
“This is everything that people brought and put together,” said Barry Camissar as he recorded the video.
Shul of Bal Harbour officials have opted to take some of the supplies to a nearby community center.
Svia Benson is coordinating the donations.
“This morning, I received a phone call. I said, ‘What do they need?’ I was told, ‘They have nothing. They lost everything,'” she said. “That was heartbreaking, but the unity and the community coming together is very uplifting.”
Officials said at least 13 members of the synagogue are among those still unaccounted for in the aftermath of the partial collapse.
“Everybody is calling anything and anywhere looking for their loved ones. Their loved ones are not answering their phone calls, or they haven’t heard from them,” said Jewish community activist Yona Lunger, “so they’re reaching out to any phone number wherever they can and however they can.”
Moshe Candiotti, one of the survivors, spoke with 7News Friday night.
“The building vibrates, which felt like an earthquake,” he said.
By the time Candiotti ran downstairs, he said, the other side of his building was already in ruins.
Pictures from the site captured pancaked floors. Everything below the 12th floor in the wing of the building that collapsed was virtually crushed, as apartments were literally sheared from what’s left of the center of the building.
Pictures also showed a necktie crumpled on a deck, as well as a headboard still attached to a wall. The bed and floor of that unit, however, were gone.
“It was difficult to walk, because there were a lot of stones broken,” said Candiotti, “but I managed to back to the street, and then I felt safe.”
When asked if he received any donations on Friday, he replied, “They gave me pillows.”
As for what he has been able to tell the families of the missing, Lipskar replied, “The only thing we can give them is kindness and empathy, and there’s been a massive outpouring of both of that.”
Near the synagogue, in the area of Collins Avenue a 90th Street, a homemade sign that reads “Surfside strong” was hung from a balcony.
In the midst of it all, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott showed up at the synagogue on Friday.
“Thank God we have the fire rescue we have. Thank God we have the people showing up to help,” he said. “I talked to the Consulate General of Israel, they’re offering support and they’ve got a lot of expertise in this.”
Synagogue officials said they are trying to reach people by phone and staying in touch with family members of those who remain missing. They have a prayer list as well.
“Your heart goes out. You can’t imagine what these families are going through,” said Scott.
On Friday, the synagogue posted pictures of the missing members on social media and asked for prayers.
When asked whether he has close personal friends among the missing, Lipskar said he does.
“I’ve adjusted to the fact that they may not be here anymore,” he said.
Until the missing are found, Lispkar said, the support and the donations are all that really can be done.
“Which balances the energy a little bit. It doesn’t take anything away, but a person feels at least he’s got a warm blanket around him,” he said.
Organizers at the synagogue said that as of Friday night, they are not accepting donations. They advised anyone with questions about how to help to call 305-868-1411.
Those who have missing loved ones should visit the Family Reunification Center at 9449 Collins Avenue or call 305-614-1819.
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