10 People Who Are Still Unaccounted For


Search and rescue operation efforts continue in the rubble of the Champlain Tower, a 12-story oceanfront condominium in Surfside, Florida, just north of Miami Beach. As prayers and good deeds continue on their behalf, here are profiles of some of those still unaccounted for. Full Story

Search and rescue operation efforts continue in the rubble of the Champlain Tower, a 12-story oceanfront condominium in Surfside, Florida, just north of Miami Beach.

As prayers and good deeds continue on their behalf, here are profiles of some of those still unaccounted for as compiled by Menachem Posner, Tzali Reicher and Mordechai Lightstone of Chabad.org:

Deborah Berezdivin

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Friends describe 21-year-old Deborah Berezdivin as an “old soul,” passionate about friendship, art, conversation, life, and Jewish observance.

Berezdivin is among the 140 people who are believed to have been trapped beneath the collapsed Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Fla.

A native of Puerto Rico, she was in Florida with her boyfriend, Ilan Naibryf, attending the funeral of a family friend who had died of COVID.

Mushka Lipskier, co-director of Chabad at Tulane Undergrad, where Berezdivin had been an architecture student, describes her as being “super kind and warm to people around her.”

On her first day at Tulane, Berezdivin and her parents, Jeff and Clara, visited the Chabad House and requested a mezuzah for her dorm room.

Throughout her time in Tulane, Berezdivin attended Shabbat at Chabad on a weekly basis, lighting candles and enjoying the company of her fellow Jews, especially the many Spanish-speakers among them, whom Lipskier describes as a “family unit.”

According to Rabbi Mendel Zarchi, director of Chabad of Puerto Rico, her paternal grandparents are among the founders of Jewish life in the territory, steeped in Jewish tradition, values, and generosity. On her mother’s side, her grandparents are pillars of Judaism in their home country of Costa Rica.

An active volunteer, she would often be found at Chabad on Thursday nights and Fridays, baking challah, preparing salads, and plating food for as many as 300 students who would show up on a Friday night.

Just before the onset of the COVID lockdowns, she and her friend Rebecca Lubin were active in arranging an intergenerational event connecting local Holocaust survivors with students, in tandem with Chabad and the local JCC. The event never took place, and Berezdivin soon transferred to GWU in the fall of 2020.

Yet, even after she left Tulane, the two continued to study Torah with Lipskier over Zoom.

The public is asked to pray for Devorah bat Talya Chaya and all others who are still being searched for.

Arnie and Myriam Notkin

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Myriam and Arnie Notkin met more than 40 years after she emigrated from Cuba with the wave of immigrants who arrived in Florida after the communists seized power in 1959. She was a widow with three daughters when they married, and the couple has spent 20 years of joy and happiness together.

Both had long careers. Arnie worked as a physical education teacher and Myriam as a banker and real estate agent before they retired and embraced the next stage of their lives. Always with a story to tell, Arnie is an institution in the Miami Beach community and takes great pride in his students. Long after they had graduated, he always has a nice word and memory to share about them.

In a lengthy tribute shared on CNN, their friend and North Miami Beach Commissioner, Fortuna Smukler, remembered how kind, caring and warm they are. Myriam was close with Smukler’s mother and takes care to mention her every time they met—even four decades after her passing— making it clear to Smukler how much Myriam truly treasures their relationship.

The Notkins live on the 3rd floor of Champlain Towers South and were home the night of the devastating collapse. They have not been heard from since, and their family is praying to hear good news soon.

The public is asked to pray for Miriam bat Sarah, her husband, Arnie, and all other victims of the collapse.

Luis Sadovnic and Nicole Langesfeld

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Luis Sadovnic was a young man from Venezuela studying at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla., when he met Nicole Langesfeld, an American with Argentine roots, who was studying to be a commercial litigator. Both were adventurous and easy going, and they were married in January 2021, on the beach in front of his grandmother’s 8th floor apartment in Champlain Tower South, which they moved into.

Known for their humor and passion for physical fitness, friends recall their love of exploring new places and things and ever present smiles. Co-workers in the Miami branch of Reed Smith, where Nicole works as an associate, describe her as a clever lawyer with a high work ethic.

Noah Goldberg told The Washington Post that Nicole is very funny and cares deeply about her friends. An example he shared was how on Wednesday, Goldberg didn’t feel well and Nicole called and texted him at 9:45 p.m. to ask how he was feeling. Her building collapsed just a few short hours later.

Nicole’s brother Michael spoke to the Associated Press of his missing sister’s strength and a message of hope: “I know she is fighting. We are not alone in this. There’s hope. I really believe miracles do happen.”

The public is asked to pray for all who are still being searched for.

Estelle Hedaya

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Estelle Hedaya has worked in the jewelry industry for more than 30 years, making countless friends along the way. Many have flooded her social media pages with prayers for her wellbeing and safety, after news broke she is among those missing in the tragic Champlain Tower South collapse.

A Brooklyn native, Estelle’s mother worked in New York’s competitive jewelry market, where Estelle worked hard and made a name for herself. In 2015, she was recruited to work at Continental Buying Group and Preferred Jewelers International in Florida, and relocated to Surfside, where she lives on the 6th floor of the condominium building.

A passionate traveler and foodie who loves to try new things and just have fun, Estelle runs a blog called followthetoes.com, where she shares her adventures, feelings and advice. Her friend Mindy Beth Silverman shared with the Miami Herald that Estelle is so full of life and devoted to her Judaism. She had a deep and abiding love for Israel and her fellow Jewish people.

On the Friday night following her building’s collapse, Estelle’s friend Debra Golan said she performed the mitzvah of lighting Shabbat candles 18 minutes earlier than she had to, 18 corresponding to chai (life), and her prayer that Estelle will be found soon.

The public is asked to pray for Esther bat Leah and all who are still being searched for.

Linda March

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Linda March, 58, is an attorney specializing in real estate law who earned her JD from Yeshiva University’s Cardozo School of Law. She previously served as Administrative Law Judge at the NYC Environmental Control Board (now known as OATH), the New York city agency that adjudicates summonses that are issued by these agencies. A dedicated friend, she’s beloved for her ‘spicy sense of humor,’ her love for travel and especially her love for Judaism and the Jewish people.

After contracting the coronavirus last year in New York City, March suffered from the so-called “long COVID” symptoms, and recently left New York City for the warm weather and sunny beaches of Surfside, Fla. hoping that the move would be healing both physically and spiritually.

She rented the fully furnished Penthouse 4 on the Champlain’s South Tower as a new home and office. The apartment was ripped apart when the Champlain Tower collapsed.

Renee Manger and March were part of a group of friends who lived in Manhattan during the early aughts.

“We would get together for Shabbat meals at Linda’s apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, go out for dinner together, just talk as friends,” Manger says. “She was always so upbeat and fun, very bright and learned – both in her Jewish knowledge and in her professional life.”

Despite the passing of time, as Manger moved to Stamford and March began to split her time between New York and Florida, the two remained in touch.

After Manger’s twin brother passed away, as well as after the passing of March’s sister and parents, the two connected.

“We didn’t have a superficial friendship,” Manger says. “There was real depth there. When Linda called me, we’d get right into it.”

Linda had a strong Jewish education, attended Yeshiva University High School, and has remained deeply committed to Jewish study and causes. After her sister passed away from cancer, March began supporting cancer research.

“She’s been a great supporter of Israel and the Jewish people,” says Selwyn Singer, another friend from ‘the group’ and also a transplant to South Florida.

In fact, March and Singer had plans to attend a Torah study class in Aventura a week after the fateful collapse of the Champlain Tower.

“Linda is truly an Aishet Chayil,” Singer says, using the Hebrew term for a woman of valor, “and an amazing friend.”

The public is asked to pray for Chaya Gila bat Yehudit and all others who are still being searched for.

David and Bonnie Epstein

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David and Bonnie Epstein are the proud parents of one son, Jonathan. They settled down in retirement after a long career in real estate investing, and have a passion for watersports, including kite surfing and jet skiing.

After hearing the news of the tragic destruction of Champlain Towers South—where the Epstein’s lived on the 9th floor—their cousin, Joey Feldman, spoke about their small, warm family. Praying for a miracle, Feldman told CNBC he is still holding onto hope for their safe extraction.

The public is asked to pray for all who are still being searched for.

Judy Spiegel

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A gregarious stockbroker with Merrill Lynch, Judy Spiegel was a dedicated volunteer at the Southampton Hospital’s Ellen Hermanson Breast Center on New York’s Long Island, on Holocaust memorial projects, and on giving back to her community in many other ways.

She grew up in South Bellview, N.Y. After marrying Kevin Spiegel—her husband of more than 40 years—they began to raise their family in Plainview, N.Y., before establishing themselves in Southampton. They had three children and became longtime pillars of the Chabad of Southampton community.

“Judy was so warm, nice and kind,” Rabbi Rafe Konikov, co-director of Chabad of Southampton, told Newsday. “Whenever she walked into a room, she filled it with positive energy and was always smiling and filled with life.”

In 2017, the Spiegels relocated to Surfside, and settled on the sixth floor of Champlain Tower South, where they became familiar faces in the community. With Kevin away on a business trip, Judy was alone in her apartment in the early hours of June 24, when it went down in the devastating collapse.

Spiegel’s daughter Rachel noted that her mother is a passionate advocate for Holocaust awareness.

“She’s very thoughtful, she cared about the details,” a tearful Rachel told The Associated Press. “She was certainly the matriarch of our family.”

Holding onto hope of her safe extraction, her friends in Southampton held a prayer service on Shabbat at the Chabad House, while Rachel Spiegel, who last heard her mother’s voice hours before the tragedy, told a local news outlet, “No matter where my mom is, she’s with us no matter what, through thick and thin.”

The public is asked to pray for all who are still being searched for.

 



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