Bodies of kids killed in New York fire arrive in Israel for burial
THE bodies of seven children who perished in a fire in their Brooklyn home arrived in Israel yesterday ahead of a funeral service in Jerusalem at 3:30 p.m.
New York residents gathered on Sunday to mourn the deaths, as investigators blamed a malfunctioning hot plate of the type commonly used on Shabbat for sparking the deadly blaze on Saturday.
The children’s father, Gabriel Sassoon, who lost seven of his eight children, called his kids “a sacrifice.” Sassoon broke down at a eulogy in Brooklyn on Sunday and sobbed as he tried to recite the names of his late children, saying they were “angels,” in a memorial service attended by thousands of mourners from the ultra-Orthodox community, the New York Post reported.
They were named by the Hebrew media as Ya’akov, 5; Sarah, 6; Moshe, 8; Yehoshua, 10; Rivkah, 11; David, 12, and Elian, 16, and were either declared dead at the scene or at nearby hospitals. Their mother, Gayle, and sister, Tzipporah, 15, remained hospitalized in critical condition. They are unaware of the seven deaths.
“They all had faces of angels. Hashem (God) knows how much I love them,” Sassoon said. He was out of town at a religious conference when the fire consumed his home shortly after midnight Saturday.
“People forget what’s important in life. My kids were the best, but really, every child is the best and most beautiful child in the world,” he said, visibly shaken as he recited the names of his kids.
“They were a burnt offering. I lost everything in the fire. Seven pure sheep. Those are my seven children. Too many names. They are seven complete pure sheep. There’s nothing else to say,” he said. “There’s only one way to survive this. There is only total and complete surrender.
Our wishes are tiny compared to what Hashem has planned,” he said. State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, of Brooklyn, called the deaths “an absolute disaster.” “The family had been planning to spend Shabbos in Deal, New Jersey, but had changed their minds because of the snowstorm. And then this happened,” Hikind said, adding that the event is “an unbelievable tragedy.”
Hikind said alternatives may have to be found for the practice of keeping a hot plate on for Shabbat, a common modern method for religious Jews to heat food without turning appliances on or off on the holy day. Many families simply leave them on throughout the day so they are usable without violating prohibitions against doing work.