As search and rescue operation efforts continue in the hopes of finding survivors of the collapse, Yidden around the world continue to daven and do mitzvos for a miracle. Among those still missing are Dr. Ruslan and Nicole Doran Manashirov and brothers Dr. Brad Cohen and Dr. Gary Cohen.
By Mordechai Lightstone and Menachem Posner – Chabad.org
Search and rescue operation efforts continue in the hopes of finding survivors of the collapse early Thursday morning of the Champlain Tower, a 12-story oceanfront condominium in Surfside, Fla., just north of Miami Beach.
Some 150 people remain missing under the rubble of the Champlain Towers. As prayers and good deeds continue on their behalf, here are profiles of some of those still unaccounted for.
Dr. Ruslan and Nicole Doran Manashirov
Three months ago, friends gathered in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to celebrate the wedding of Dr. Ruslan Manashirov and his wife, Nicole Doran-Manashirov. The event had been postponed multiple times previously due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Now, after the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers, friends have shared photos of the jubilant couple on social media as the Manashirovs remain missing, along with some 150 other residents.
Ruslan grew up in Bergen Beach, Brooklyn, to an Azerbaijani-Jewish family originally from Baku. He is a neurologist and a family practice doctor.
Nicole is a Pittsburgh native and a physician assistant in the emergency department at the Aventura Hospital, who dedicated herself to saving lives during the dark days of the pandemic.
A patient of Dr. Manashirov’s, Jose Miqueli, posted on Twitter
“This has been very hard to deal with. Ruslan was my doctor, and we had so many conversations. Last one was about his dad. Wonderful man, doctor and son. May our Lord help our families deal through this. Blessings.”
Dr. Brad Cohen and Dr. Gary Cohen
Twelve-year-old Elisheva Cohen was standing near the site of the tragedy in Surfside late Monday night reading Psalms on her phone when Surfside mayor Charles Burkett came over to her.
“I had seen this little girl before, and I know because we had talked,” the mayor later shared. “She was sitting in a chair by herself with nobody around her, looking at her phone, and I knelt down and I asked her, so what are you doing? Are you OK? She was reading a Jewish prayer to herself, sitting at the site where one of her parents presumably is. And that really brought it home to me. I am going to find her, and I am going to tell her that we are all here for her.”
Elisheva has not been alone in her prayers. A gaping hole was torn in thousands of hearts after news spread last week that her father, Dr. Brad (Yaakov Reuven Hakohen) Cohen, and her uncle, Dr. Gary (Tzvi Nosson Hakohen), were under the piles of rubble in the Surfside condo collapse.
In addition to their loving families and grateful patients, the two brothers are treasured by their communities—Brad in Bay Harbor, Fla., and Gary in Birmingham, Ala.
Consummate students of Torah, they love nothing more than to share their studies with others, refining their understanding through hearing others’ perspectives.
“It all began one day in the bank 25 years ago,” recalls Rabbi Yaakov Saacks, who directs the Jewish Chai Center in Dix Hills, N.Y., where the Cohens had grown up. “Their mother, Deborah, whom I had never met before, came over to me and told me that her son Brad was finishing medical school in Cincinnati. During that time, he had befriended an Orthodox medical student, she said, and was interested in deepening his Jewish knowledge and observance.”
Brad soon became a regular participant in Saacks’s classes and programs. As his appreciation for Shabbat grew, he began spending every Shabbat in the Saacks home, drinking in the Shabbat tranquility and enhancing his understanding of Jewish family life.
“He always asked great questions in class,” says Saacks. “He loved learning. Even as he was spending the lion’s share of his waking hours doing clinical rotations, he carved out time for Torah study. With audio cassettes and CDs, he made sure that his daily commute to and from the hospital were productively spent on Torah.”
When he married his wife, Soraya, he founded a fully observant home, passing on his passion for Judaism to his two children, Avi and Elisheva.
Passion For Torah
In time, Brad Cohen’s passion for Judaism spread to his parents, Morton and Deborah Cohen, and to his elder brother, Gary, a physiatrist who relocated to Alabama, living in Birmingham and practicing in the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center.
“In recent years, Judaism has taken an increasingly central place in the lives of Gary and Mindy Cohen,” says Rabbi Yossi Friedman, program director at Chabad of Alabama. Dedicated to keeping Shabbat, and determined not to drive on the sacred day of rest, they either spent it alone at home, which is too far to walk to the Chabad center, or with friends, who live closer to Chabad.
Obtaining kosher food is also quite challenging in Alabama, a state with a tiny observant population and no kosher dining options, yet the Cohens gladly kept a kosher home.
“Gary was always coming over to me and sharing what he learned online or had read,” says Freidman. “With a unique persistence, he would always probe, ask, debate and discover. He was not shy about sharing his understanding, but he was always willing to listen to others and concede to them when he thought they were right. It was amazing to watch him grow and learn.”
With Greg in town to visit their parents, who had relocated to Florida, the brothers were spending time together in a condominium on the 11th floor of the Champlain Towers South at the time of the collapse.
Chaim ben Sara
Malka bas Sara Rochel
Yisroel Tzvi Yosef ben Toiba
Tzvi Doniel ben Yehudis
Ita bat Miriam
Moshe Ben Toba
Moshe Ben Shoshana
Arie Leib Ben Ita
Ilan Ben Kalman
Leib Ben Shoshana
Sarah bat Ida
Naftulem bat Yafa (Nancy Kress Levin)
Efraim Ben Naftulem (Frankie Kleinman)
Jay ben Naftulem (Jay Kleinman)
Deborah bat Chaia (Deborah Berezdivin)
Yehuda Arie ben Feiga Rivka
Nicole bat Andrea
Esther bat Linda
Lein ben Ilana
Leibl ben Feigue Rivka
Ruth bat Sarah
Devorah bat Clara
Myriam and Arnie Notkin
Miriam bat Sara
Yaakov Reuvein Hacohen Ben Devorah
Mikael ben Hans
Gabriela bat Sara
Linda bas Clara (Linda March)
Ilan ben Ronit (Ilan Naybryf)
Chaya Gila bas Yehudis
Chaya Gila bas Yehudis
Esther bat Leah linda
Reprinted with permission from Chabad.org