Three members of the Surfside Jewish community in their thirties who started a young Jewish professionals group only weeks ago, turned their new organization into a fundraising campaign for the survivors and families of the victims of the Champlain Towers South condo building collapse.
They had originally met at a Marriott hotel party 35-year old consultant Efraim Stefansky threw as a welcome event as he had only recently moved to the area from New York City. The trio who call themselves EZS Events – from their names Efraim, Zushie and Svia – initially organized a Shabbat dinner at their Surfside synagogue, the Shul at Bal Harbour. Eighty-five people attended.
Suddenly, last Thursday, they were faced with the collapse of the 12-story building in their city. At 3 a.m. they turned to GoFundMe to launch a campaign to help the survivors and families of the victims, reported The Forward.
They set out with a goal of $5,000. They sent word to the EZS Events WhatsApp group’s 200 members, and all their other contacts.
As of 9:30 p.m. on July 1, their campaign had so far raised $1,353,119 from 11,772 people.
There were some large individual donations. One person gave $18,000. They also have fundraising teams from businesses, several chapters of Jewish fraternity AEPi, and several Miami-Dade County synagogues.
They are still working out the specifics but they are planning on distributing the money to families and victims of the disaster using the Shutl at Bal Harbour and Hatzalah for help.
EZS also helped to spread word of the clothing and household litem donation drive taking place at the Shul. The successful appeal brought in thousands of basic items. The three used their network to get volunteers from the area to help with sorting and boxing the items in the synagogue’s social event room.
“We couldn’t go on the scene, we’re not EMTs, we’re not physicians,” Stefansky told The Forward. “The only thing we can do at this point is raise money.”