Monday, March 23, 2015
The seven siblings who died in a fast-moving house fire in a Brooklyn community of Orthodox Jews over the weekend were expected to be buried in Jerusalem on Monday.
The seven caskets were taken to John F. Kennedy International Airport following the children's funeral Sunday and flown to the Holy Land. The three girls and four boys ranged in ages from 5 to 16.
"They were so pure," the children's father, Gabi Sassoon, said during a eulogy at Sunday's ceremony, which drew hundreds of mourners. "My wife, she came out fighting."
"My children were unbelievable. They were the best," he said as mourners outside the funeral home cried in the streets. "Please everybody love your child and students. That's all that counts. Don't negate that."
The service began with prayers in Hebrew, and shrieks could be heard through speakers that broadcast it outside. Several hundred people gathered inside and on the streets.
Many people gathered Sunday evening for a candle-light memorial outside the Sassoon home in Brooklyn's Midwood neighborhood.
The children died early Saturday when flames engulfed their home. Investigators believe a hot plate left on a kitchen counter set off the fire that trapped the children and badly injured their mother and another sibling.
The hot plate had been left on overnight to heat food for the Sabbath and malfunctioned around midnight.
A vase of white roses was placed in front of the family's fire-gutted home on Bedford Avenue, where a police officer stood guard and contractors boarded up windows with plywood.
"I call this not a tragedy but an absolute disaster," said state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents Midwood.
The blaze killed three girls and four boys -- all members of the neighborhood's tight-knit community of ultra-Orthodox Jews.
Authorities identified the victims as girls Eliane, 16; Rivkah, 11; and Sara, 6; and boys David, 12; Yeshua, 10; Moshe, 8; and Yaakob, 5.
At the time of the fire, Gabi Sassoon was in Manhattan at a Shabbaton, an educational celebration held on a Sabbath.
Flames quickly spread through the Sassoon home, and there were no smoke detectors to alert the family. Sassoon's wife, Gayle, and their 14-year-old daughter, Siporah, escaped by jumping out of windows. Both were hospitalized in critical condition.
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