(JTA) — The Champlain Towers South building collapse in Surfside Florida is a national tragedy, one that has claimed 28 lives so far and left 117 still missing in the rubble as of July 5.
Among other groups, it struck a unique nexus of the American Jewish community in South Florida, home to a mix of Latin American immigrants, Israelis and retirees from the Northeast. The town of Surfside, the site of the collapse, is at least a third Jewish, with a large Orthodox population.
Several of the victims identified were part of this Jewish community. We’ve gathered information here on those we could confirm as Jewish.
Unfortunately, this list may grow as the days pass and more bodies are found. We will update it accordingly.
Stacie Fang, 54
Stacie Fang, a New Jersey native who was the first victim of the Champlain Towers disaster to be identified, was buried in New Brunswick on Sunday, according to reports. Fang was the vice president of a Surfside-based company that produces an annual event in Chicago for retail and marketing executives, the Palm Beach Post reported. Her 15-year-old son, Jonah Hendler, was pulled alive from the wreckage of the building by a passerby shortly after it collapsed. Fang was declared dead at a hospital in Aventura, Florida, on Thursday.
“There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Stacie,” her family said in a statement.
Leon Oliwkowicz, 80, and Christina Beatriz Elvira, 74
Leon Oliwkowicz, 80, and Christina Beatriz Elvira, 74, a Venezuelan Jewish couple that recently moved to Florida, were among the first victims of the Chaplain Towers disaster to be identified. Miami-Dade police said their remains were recovered over the weekend, the Miami Herald reported. They were laid to rest on Monday.
In 2019, the couple donated a Torah scroll to a Chabad yeshiva in Chicago where their daughter worked as a secretary, according to a report on the Chabad website Collive. At the dedication, Oliwkowicz, speaking in Yiddish, expressed his joy at having finally commissioned a Torah scroll in memory of his parents.
Frank Kleiman, 55
Frank Kleiman had much to look forward to. His most recent public Facebook post on Feb. 22, captioned “New venture, new beginnings,” referred to a postal company he had just started. He had recently married Ana Ortiz, with whom he lived in the Champlain Towers. And he was looking forward to the birth of his first grandchild.
His body was recovered in the rubble on Monday. Ortiz and her son Luis are among the missing.
Kleiman, a child of Cuban Jewish emigres, was raised in Puerto Rico and had strong ties to the United States. He attended Drexel University in Philadelphia, earning a degree in finance, and was a big fan of the Philadelphia Eagles.
His mother, Nancy Kress Levin, also lived in the building. And his brother, Jay, was visiting from Puerto Rico. They, too, are among the missing.
Michael David Altman, 50
Michael David Altman had lived in his apartment, which had been in his family since the 1980s, for six years when the building collapsed. He was identified as one of the victims of the disaster on Monday. His funeral was Friday.
Altman, a Costa Rica native, came to the United States with his parents at the age of 4. He is survived by his parents, both in their 70s, as well as his two sons, Nicholas and Jeffrey, both in college.
Friends of Altman who posted to social media said he played racquetball regularly, according to the Palm Beach Post. His older son, Nicholas, told the Miami Herald that his father was “very loving,” “always smiling,” and “very fun and loved to tell jokes.”
“He was a great father, and a great son to my grandparents,” Nicholas said.