Bodies of siblings killed in Midwood fire arrive in Israel

March 23, 2015 By Alon Bernstein Associated Press
A woman is consoled as others cry as vehicles carrying the remains of the seven siblings killed in a house fire depart after funeral services, Sunday in Brooklyn. The siblings, ages 5 to 16, died early Saturday when flames engulfed the Sassoon family home in Midwood. Investigators believe a hot plate left on a kitchen counter set off the fire that trapped the children. AP Photo/Julio Cortez
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BEN GURION AIRPORT, Israel— The bodies of seven ultra-Orthodox Jewish siblings who died in the most fatal New York house fire in years arrived Monday in Israel for burial.

The bodies of the children from the Sassoon family, ages 5 to 16, were flown into Israel’s international airport and whisked away by police escort in a convoy of cars toward a Jerusalem cemetery.

Their ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn was shattered by the fatal house fire believed to have been caused by a hot plate left on for the Sabbath. Investigators say the hot plate apparently malfunctioned, setting off flames that incinerated the stairs, trapping the children in their second-floor bedrooms as they slept.

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The blaze killed three girls and four boys — all members of the neighborhood’s tightknit community of ultra-Orthodox Jews. Both the mother and a daughter — Gayle Sassoon and 14-year-old Siporah Sassoon — remained in critical condition.

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.

The children will be buried later Monday in Jerusalem.

Alon Edri, who identified himself as a rabbi and relative of the family, said it was significant for the religious family to be buried in the Holy Land.

“We believe that being buried in Israel is important because all of your sins are then absolved,” he said.

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