A Brooklyn father who suffered the unthinkable loss of seven children when fire ripped through his home brought thousands of mourners to tears Sunday during their funeral.
He wept as he recited the names, saying they are all “angels” now.
“They all had faces of angels. Hashem [God] knows how much I love them,” said Gabriel Sassoon.
“People forget what’s important in life. My children were unbelievable. They were the best. But the truth is, every child is the best. Every child is the most beautiful child there is in the world. Every child is like that.”
The Orthodox Jewish dad broke down as he recited the names of his dead children, ages 5 to 16.
“They were a burnt offering. I lost everything in the fire. Seven pure sheep. Those are my seven children,” said Sassoon, who was at a religious retreat in Manhattan when flames tore through his Midwood home.
Authorities say the fire was ignited by a hot plate that malfunctioned while keeping food warm. It had been left on so the family could observe a religious rule against working on the Sabbath.
The children — Yaakob, 5, Sara, 6, Moshe, 8, Yeshua, 10, Rivkah, 11, David, 12, and Eliane, 16 — were either declared dead at the scene or at hospitals.
The mother, Gayle Sassoon, 45, and her second-eldest child, Siporah, 15, both escaped the fire by jumping from the home’s second floor.
Witnesses heard one child crying, “Mommy! Mommy! Help me!” from inside the house, while Gayle, burned and bloodied, pleaded, “My kids are in there! Get them out! Get them out!”
Gayle and Siporah both remained hospitalized Sunday, with the mother listed in critical condition and fighting for her life in a hyperbaric chamber at Jacobi Medical Center in The Bronx. The daughter was at Staten Island University Hospital North.
Sources said neither was aware of the fate that befell the rest of their family.
“I have no idea how [Siporah] will deal with this once her body heals. This is beyond terrible,” a family friend said while leaving the Staten Island hospital.
In a tragic twist, Gayle was going to bring all eight kids to her parents in New Jersey on Friday, but stayed home to avoid the bad weather, said state Assemblyman Dov Hikind.
“The family had been planning to spend Shabbos [the Sabbath] in Deal, New Jersey, but had changed their minds because of the snowstorm. And then this happened,” Hikind said outside the fire scene.
“It’s an unbelievable tragedy.”
The Sassoons moved to the house at 3371 Bedford Ave., Gayle’s family home, about a year and a half ago from Israel, where they had lived for about 15 years.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, at the US Conference of Mayors in Boston, said officials were still investigating, “then we’re going to decide from there in terms of public education” on preventing such fires.
Sen. Charles Schumer said “the entire city is in mourning” while attending a vigil in front of the scorched home Sunday night.
“There’s no greater loss than when a parent buries a child,” Schumer said. “The Sassoons have buried seven.”