The Israeli officer who helped identify the remains of Itty Ainsworth in the building collapse in Surfside, Fla., stood by the Torah scroll on Thursday as her granddaughter was named after her. The baby’s father described it as a “powerful moment“.
By Menachem Shlomo – Chabad.org
The Israeli officer who helped identify the remains of Itty Ainsworth in the building collapse in Surfside, Fla., stood by the Torah scroll on Thursday as her granddaughter was named after her.
When IDF Col. Golan Vach paid a visit to the shiva of the Ainsworth family, his main goal was to assure them that based on the remains that his team had helped identify, Itty and Tzvi Ainsworth had died on impact and had not suffered.
While he was there, however, he also partook in an uncommon event.
When he arrived, the family was preparing to mark the naming of a baby girl, who was born to Itty’s son Dovy and his wife, Sheva, on the day before the building fell on June 24. Traditionally, baby girls are named with a special prayer following the Torah reading on Monday, Thursday or Shabbat. It is customary among Ashkenazic Jews to name children after loved ones who have passed on.
To thank Vach for his team’s efforts in locating and identifying the bodies of the parents of seven, he was called to the Torah for the prayer that announces the new baby’s name.
“It is with deep gratitude that I share the birth and naming of our daughter, Itta (Itty) Ainsworth, named after my mother, a’h,” the baby’s father wrote on Facebook. “My daughter should follow in my mother’s ways, connecting deeply with so many around the world in a positive, uplifting, and spiritual way.”
The father of the baby also shared his gratitude for Vach.
“We were honored to have the IDF [officer] responsible for my parents search efforts attend the Torah reading and naming ceremony,” he wrote. “Thank you Col. Golan Vach and the IDF, who have been critically helpful and comforting through this process. Col. Vach is a special soul we will never forget.”
Itty’s brother-in-law, Rabbi Raphael Tennenhaus, director of Chabad of South Broward in Hallandale Beach, Fla., presided over the service.
“I was the gabbai, and at her father’s instruction, I gave the baby the name Itta after my late sister-in-law,” Tennenhaus told Chabad.org, referring to Itty’s full Yiddish name. “The celebration is a reminder of how life goes on. How there is joy despite this tragedy.”
The rabbi also explained the specific relevance of this message to the day the baby was named.
“The section of Tanya that was learned on the day the baby was named discusses a specific quote from the Zohar: ‘Weeping is lodged in one side of my heart, and joy is lodged in the other side of my heart,’ ” said Tennenhaus. “I shared that with the family—that the joy is not compromised because of the tragedy and that G‑d grants us the opportunity to experience both emotions simultaneously.”
Vach, who led Israel’s National Rescue Unit, arrived in Miami following the collapse of the 12-story building in order to help with the desperate and heroic rescue mission. A week later, he was part of the team who found and identified Itty, 66, and Tzvi, 68.
On Sunday, the Israeli unit bade farewell to their fellow rescue workers before their return home. The group received an emotional sendoff with the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Daniella Levine Cava, thanking them for their help.
“Miami-Dade County and the Town of Surfside will never ever forget what you have done for us here,” she said.
Videos show the crowd singing “Ani Ma’amin” as the unit walks through the street. The song details one of Maimonides’ 13 principles of Jewish faith: the belief in the coming of Moshiach.
Reprinted with permission from Chabad.org