NEW YORK (PIX11) — Tearful relatives and community members gathered in Israel Monday to remember seven children killed in a Brooklyn house fire.
Gabriel Sassoon, father to the three girls and four boys, ages 5 to 16, called the children "angels" and mourned their deaths. "Why seven? One is not enough?" Sassoon sobbed while eulogizing his children. "Seven roses. So beautiful, so pure."
Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral service for the children as Sassoon's wife Gayle, 45, and their 14-year-old daughter remain in critical condition after surviving the blaze by jumping from a second-floor window.
The Sassoons are ultra-Orthodox Jews, and, as is customary with some who observe the Sabbath, they left a "hot plate" device on Friday night, according to investigators.
Observant Jews are not allowed to operate appliances, among other things, between sundown on Friday and sundown on Saturday.
In the early hours of Saturday morning, flames spread through the Midwood home, trapping all nine people -- Gabriel Sassoon was away at a conference, according to authorities.
“This is an unbelievable tragedy,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said after he toured the burned-out home with fire officials Saturday afternoon. “It’s so painful, it’s so difficult . . . Every New Yorker is feeling this pain right now.”
The tragic fire has many in the community questioning the prevalent, modern practice of leaving hot plates plugged in during the Sabbath.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind is warning people of potential scams in the aftermath of the fire, as con artists may approach members of the community claiming to be raising money on behalf of the Sassoon family.