CAvi3n_WoAEe2no

Seven members of the Sassoon family died in the tragic incident (Source: Israel News Flash on twitter)

Thousands of Jews shared in the grief of Gabriel Sassoon on Sunday after he lost seven of his eight children in a Brooklyn house fire, with his wife and eighth child seriously injured.

The Orthodox father, who was away at a religious retreat, broke down while addressing fellow mourners, as he told how his children “had the faces of angels”.

Brooklyn’s streets were a sea of black before the bodies of the seven youngsters – aged between five and 16 – were flown out to Israel for burial.

An inconsolable Sassoon was at a Manhattan retreat when the fire broke out in his Midwood home early on Saturday. He called them a “sacrifice to the community,” adding: “They were a burnt offering. I lost everything in the fire. Seven pure sheep.”

This week Sassoon’s wife Gayle and seven-year old daughter Siporah fought for their lives in hospital, with Gayle described as being in a critical condition. Neither are believed to be aware of the fate of their family. 

Investigators, who believe the cause may have originated with a hot plate was used, found a smoke detector in the basement.

“They all had faces of angels,” said Sassoon at the Sunday memorial, after the devastating blaze ripped through the house. “They know how much I love them. My children were unbelievable. They were the best. There’s nothing to say. There’s nothing to say… I want to ask my children for forgiveness.”

New York Assembly member Dov Hikind said the family were not even supposed to be at home but at a grandparent’s house, as Mr Sassoon went to the retreat.

“They had been planning to spend Shabbos in New Jersey, but changed their minds because of the snowstorm,” he said. “It’s an unbelievable tragedy.”

New York Fire Department Commissioner Daniel Nigro confirmed that the blaze had been “the largest tragedy by fire this city has seen in seven years”.

Over 2,000 people accompanied Sassoon through the streets on Sunday before the seven small coffins made their way to JFK Airport for a flight to Israel, where the kids were to be buried in Jerusalem’s Har HaMenuchot Cemetery.