JERUSALEM — Seven Jewish siblings who were killed in a devastating New York house fire over the weekend were being laid to rest Monday after being flown to Israel for burial.
Dozens of mourners, including the chief rabbi of Israel, attended the emotional service, which was repeatedly interrupted by anguished cries. "Why seven? Seven beautiful lilies," their father, Gabriel Sasson, cried out during a eulogy. "So pure. So pure."
The bodies of the Sassoon siblings, ages 5 to 16, were flown to Israel overnight from New York and whisked away to Jerusalem in a convoy escorted by police. The bodies, wrapped in shrouds, were displayed on stretchers for a memorial service in a room crowded with dozens of mourners. After the service, they were to be buried at Jerusalem's main cemetery.
The fire has shattered the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn. Investigators believe it was caused when a hot plate, left on for the Jewish Sabbath, malfunctioned, setting off flames that incinerated the stairs of their home, trapping the children in their second-floor bedrooms as they slept.
The blaze killed three girls and four boys. Both the mother and a daughter — Gayle Sassoon and 14-year-old Siporah Sassoon — remain in critical condition.
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