One year ago, today, we were all transfixed in horror and concern as we learned of the collapse of a beachside condominium building in Surfside, Florida. 98 people died in the tragedy, and several factors distinguished this event both in the public eye and for our community in particular.
- The collapse was avoidable. It transpired that there were several opportunities missed to address the issues that led to the collapse, but they weren’t followed up in time. Perhaps we all can learn, at such a devastating cost, that when warning signs present themselves, we need to act.
- Our local, national and global Jewish community is one family. Many of the residents of the building were members of the local Jewish community, as Surfside and the surrounding area have a significant Jewish population. We prayed for the missing, and watched with admiration as the local Jewish community came out to help in the search, sustaining first responders, helping and hosting families of all those affected from all backgrounds, and taking in those who lost everything. They were an example of kindness to all of us.
- Israel is a true friend and partner to the United States. It could seem, if you only read the critical press, that the US-Israel relationship is a one-way street. That characterization is not only false, missing the value of tech, trade, intelligence sharing and reliable alliance, but it also fails to recognize the shared values and emotional attachment Israelis and Americans share. The IDF specialized search and rescue unit was on a plane mere hours after the collapse, and the professionalism, care, competence and compassion of the Israeli unit was evident from the first minute of their arrival to the last.
- I come back to the lesson I learned from my mission in Poland. We – especially Jewish organizations engaged in emergency relief work like those in Surfside and our partners in Poland and Ukraine – are at our most effective when we have built capacity for immediate, effective response. That is what we do at Federation, sustained by your partnership. That is what those in need – victims of war, of disasters like this, of challenges that may be impossible to overcome alone – depend upon. That is what we can do together.