Shalom Life | March 24, 2015

Bodies of Seven Children Killed in Brooklyn Fire Arrive in Israel

In tearful eulogy, father of seven children killed in Brooklyn fire affirms his belief and faith in God before laying their remains to rest

By: Itay Blumenthal

Published: March 23rd, 2015 in News » World

Photo: Bodies of 7 victims in Jerusalem

Credit: Gil Yohanan


"God Almighty took seven roses. He took my children and my future grandchildren, maybe 70 or 80 of them, their smiles. To you, my God, I give my all. My soul, my all. That is how I feel," said Gabriel Sassoon at the funeral of his seven children, who were killed in a fire in Brooklyn over the weekend.

The bodies of the seven children killed in a New York fire were brought to Israel on Monday, where they were laid to rest in the Jerusalem's Givat Shaul Cemetery.

Hundreds, including both close friends of the family and strangers alike, arrived to offer their support at the funeral. The father continued his eulogy while fighting back tears. "They were such naive children. I had no idea there were tears like these. Seven roses so beautiful and pure."

"For 17 years I saw new peaks, new developments from the begining of every month. Everytime a new flower began to bloom, and I didn't know where it would end. God Almighty has decided that this was the peak (of their development)," the father said.

Photo: Gil Yohanan

Photo: Gil Yohanan

The children's mother, Gayle, and one of the sisters, Siporah, are still hospitalized in critical condition at a Brooklyn medical center. Rabbi Alon Deri, a family friend, arrived at the airport to receive the victims' father, Gabriel.

"We are arriving at the moment of truth. The situation is not pleasant, it is very difficult. We hope that we can get through this," he told Ynet.

Father eulogizes his seven children (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

Father eulogizes his seven children (Photo: Gil Yohanan)

Deri spoke of the decision to bury the children, 5-year-old Yaakov, 6-year-old Sarah, 8-year-old Moshe, 10-year-old Yehoshua, 11-year-old Rivkah, 12-year-old David, and 16-year-old Eliane. "All these years he talked about returning to Israel. Their home was being built in Jerusalem."

He added: "The decision to be buried in Israel comes out of a deep faith and it is a mitzvah. We believe that the moment you are buried in the Holy Land your past transgressions and crimes are forgiven."

A friend of the family said the father was withdrawn. "I spoke with him. What could he say?" What could a man say whose whole world had darkened in a few minutes, in a matter of hours? I hope that God Almighty will give him the strength to continue and to live a normal life."

Sassoon family

Sassoon family

The father of seven Orthodox Jewish children killed in a Brooklyn house fire told hundreds of mourners at their funeral on Sunday that the only way he could survive the tragedy was through "complete, utter and total surrender" to his religious beliefs.

Many of the mourners rocked back and forth in reverence as he spoke. "My children, they were so pure," he said.

Eliyahu Sherman, another family friend, said that the Sassoon family was unique and that he came to support them. "I spoke with them before it happened; I have no words, it is indescribable, they are righteous. The children and the parents are angels and saints unlike any I have ever met."

Coffins of Sassoon family victims (Photo: Israel Airports Authority)

Coffins of Sassoon family victims (Photo: Israel Airports Authority)

He expressed a deep regret at the tragedy that befell the family. "We do not know why this happened; the ways of God are hidden. This is a funeral that no one wants to attend."

Sherman said the family came from Japan. "Gabriel's father was one of the important Jews in Japan, and his sons came to Israel to study in the yeshivas. They donated millions of dollars to a variety of organizations in Israel and abroad. All of their time was dedicated to teaching Torah and the mitzvahs."

Roi Yanovsky contributed to this report.

Reprinted with permission from Ynet News

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