Friends and relatives of the Sassoon family attended the service, as well as supporters who only learned of the tragedy through the news. The chief rabbi of Israel and mayor of Jerusalem also paid their respects.
The bodies of the children, ages 5 to 16, were flown to Israel overnight from New York and were immediately taken to Jerusalem in a convoy escorted by police.
“Why seven? Seven beautiful lilies,” the children’s father, Gabriel Sassoon, cried out in an anguished eulogy. “So pure. So pure.”
He recounted how his children enjoyed studying the Torah and other Jewish texts.
“They were such innocent children,” he said, his voice choking up. He later called out the names of his children, one by one.
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. New York fire officials have described the blaze as the city’s worst house fire in recent memory.
The tragedy had some reconsidering the practice of keeping hot plates on for the Sabbath, a common modern method of obeying tradition prohibiting the use of fire on the holy day.
Israeli media have said the family lived in Jerusalem before moving to New York two years ago. The tragedy dominated Israeli newscasts.
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Father Gabriel Sassoon eulogizes his children.
ABC News NY reports
Mourners Hold Vigil Outside Brooklyn Home Where 7 Children Died in Fire
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Kevurah of the Sassoon Children