As some in attendance wiped tears from their eyes, Andrea Berdichevsky solemnly walked to a table set up at Paradise Park and lit a candle for her nephew and his wife in Israel as Key Biscayne honored the dead on Friday evening in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas.
The couple – Itay and Hadar Berdichevsky, both 30 – died defending their kibbutz but their final act was shielding their 10-month-old twins.
“They sacrificed their own life for them because they could have stayed all in the shelter, but then probably they (the terrorists) would probably have gotten into the shelter,” Berdichevsky said.
The Paradise Park prayer service for Israelis killed in the surprise attack drew about 200, according to the Key Biscayne Community Foundation, the event sponsor. Rabbi Avremel Caroline of the Chabad Key Biscayne Jewish Center said Berdichevsky is just one example of how the tragedy has reached the island community.
“There were a number of Key Biscayne families who were directly impacted and you have to understand that we all were directly impacted. Whenever somebody asks me how’s your family in Israel? I think of all the millions of our family in Israel,” Caroline said.
The attacks occurred on a Jewish holiday celebrating the Torah and the prayer service took place despite Hamas calling for a worldwide “Day of Rage.”
There were fathers with sons, mothers with daughters. Those of the Jewish faith and those who came to support – such as Council Members Allison McCormick and Oscar Sardiñas. There were songs and prayers.
McCormick read a proclamation signed by Mayor Joe Rasco that detailed the atrocities of the Hamas attack and declared support for Israel
“Hamas murderers brutally butchered at least 1,300 human souls – babies, grandparents, moms and dads, kids of all ages,” McCormick said. There were 22 American citizens killed.
She spoke of how Hamas kidnapped an estimated 120 others. Their fate remains unknown as Israel retaliation on the Gaza Strip has killed an additional 1,800 as a ground assault is expected any hour into the Palestine territory.
Cassio Guimarães was at the vigil with his 16-year-old daughter, Ana. Both spoke about unity.
“It’s very important to just honor the people in Israel and what they’re going through,” Ana said.
Berdichevsky was also there with her two daughters. One, Sofia Kreutzberger, said the vigil was just the latest example of the enormous support shown to Israel.
“We just want peace. We just want the hostages to be taken back to Israel,” she said.