Israel Burials Planned for 7 Kids Killed In NYC Fire

A New York City firefighter inspects the debris at the rear of the Brooklyn house where seven children from an Orthodox Jewish family died early March 21. (Photo: Peter Foley, European Pressphoto Agency)
A New York City firefighter inspects the debris at the rear of the Brooklyn house where seven children from an Orthodox Jewish family died early March 21.
(Photo: Peter Foley, European Pressphoto Agency)

Seven children from an Orthodox Jewish family who died early Saturday when fire swept through their Brooklyn home are to be buried in Jerusalem, where the family had lived before emigrating to New York.

A memorial service is be held Sunday in New York for the four boys and three girls of the Sassoon family, ages 5 to 16, according to Ynet.

Funerals will be held in Jerusalem at 2 p.m. Monday, the Israeli network Arutz Sheva reported. The family had lived there for many years before moving to the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn two years ago. A friend said the family had planned to return to Israel to live.

It was the city’s deadliest fire since 2007.

“I call this not a tragedy but an absolute disaster,” said state Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents the district. “Everyone’s in utter shock.”

He urged the Orthodox community to make sure that hot plates were working properly and that smoke detectors were installed properly and functioning.

Authorities identified the Sassoon family victims as girls Eliane, 16; Rivkah, 11; and Sara, 6; and boys David, 12; Yeshua, 10; Moshe, 8; and Yaakob, 5. All were found in upstairs bedrooms of the two-story, brick-and-wood, single-family home.

Their 45-year-old mother, Gayle, a Brooklyn native, and 14-year-old sister, Tzipara, remained in critical condition Sunday at area hospitals. They survived by jumping from a second-story window. Gayle Sassoon reportedly was burned over 45% of her body, and Tzipara suffered broken bones and smoke inhalation.

“I heard a child yelling, ‘Mommy! Mommy, help me!’ ” neighbor Andrew Rosenblatt told reporters. “I looked out the back window, and I saw flames, smoke. … The smoke and the flames were horrendous.”

Other neighbors said Gayle Sassoon was heard yelling, “My kids are in there! My kids are in there! Get them out! Get them out!”

Firefighters arrived about four minutes after the blaze was reported at 12:23 a.m. Saturday, but it was too late to save any of the children trapped inside.

“They’re some of the nicest, most well-behaved kids,” neighbor Isaac Apton told the New York Times. “A great family.”

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SOURCE: USA Today – Michael Winter

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