|Geann Pineda |||Mar 23, 2015 05:46 AM EDT|
(Photo : Reuters) Mourners watch cars carry the remains of of seven children killed in a Brooklyn fire in New York March 22, 2015.
New York wept as thousands gathered at the funeral of the seven children killed in a fire that gutted their home in Brooklyn on Saturday.
The funeral chapel was filled to the brim, with people grieving at the sight of seven small coffins placed side by side. Hundreds more gathered outside the chapel, enduring the harsh sun on a Sunday afternoon, just to hear the funeral services broadcasted through loudspeakers.
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On Saturday, a huge fire engulfed the Sassoon family's 90-year-old brick home, killing seven children trapped in their bedrooms as thick smoke filled the whole house. The mother and her 15-year-old daughter were the only survivors, but they remain critical after suffering burns and smoke inhalation. The fire, caused by an electrical hot plate malfunction, was the city's deadliest fire in nearly a decade.
The father, Gabriel Sassoon, was gasping for his breath as he delivered his eulogy for his seven children aged 5, 6, 7, 8, 11, 12 and 16.
"My children were wonderful, they were the best," Mr. Sassoon said choking on his tears. "they were so pure," he added.
Mr. Sassoon was attending a religious conference when the fire broke out. While he regrets not being there for his family during the tragedy, he believes his genuine love for his children will help him through.
"I want to ask my children for forgiveness. I did my best and my wife did her best. Please everybody love your children. It's the only thing that counts," he said.
Everyone turned emotional hearing the grieving father's voice. Men and women wept as they swayed back and forth in reverence praying for the man who now struggles to survive each day knowing seven of his children are gone.
"There's only one way to survive this: It's complete, utter and total surrender," Sassoon said.
But Mr. Sassoon knew that this day is not the end. His wife and daughter had lived, and that meant another chance at life for their now small family.
"Give us the strength to continue," he said as he asked for support from his community.
Following Mr. Sassoon's eulogy, another speaker from a school where his children go to, looked at the deaths as a holocaust that has hit their city.
After the eulogies, the remains of the seven children were brought to the Kennedy International Airport. The bodies will be brought to Israel where the family had lived two years ago. The remains will be accompanied by Mr. Sassoon and some of his relatives and friends.
Mrs. Sassoon and their 15-year-old daughter will remain in the hospital as they continue to battle for their lives.
The Sassoon family moved to Brooklyn from Israel two years ago and lived in the house owned by Mrs. Sassoon's parents. Their decision to relocate allowed Mrs. Sassoon to reconnect with her large extended family.
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