A woman and her three children who were killed in a Brooklyn house fire this week were buried in Israel Wednesday, as her husband and two more of their children remained hospitalized in the US, with serious burns they suffered in a blaze fire officials say was touched off by a lit menorah.
Aliza Azan, 39, her sons Moshe, 11, and Yitzhak, 7, and her daughter Henrietta, 3, died as the fire swept through the family home in Sheepshead Bay early Monday morning.
The four were buried in the municipal cemetery in Holon, south of Tel Aviv.
Although municipal cemeteries are usually reserved for residents, Religious Services Minister David Azoulay made a special request that their burial be permitted as the parents once lived in the city, the Ynet news site reported.
Surviving family will spend the traditional week-long Jewish mourning period at the home of Aliza Azan’s father in the city.
The father, three other children and their cousin survived, but were injured in the fast-moving blaze. Yosi Azan and his daughter Shalit, 16, and son Daniel, 15, were in critical condition at Staten Island University Hospital.
The teens saved themselves by jumping from the roof of the burning building, the New York Post reported. Shalit suffered a broken hip and Daniel sustained head injuries, a family friend told the paper.
Two younger boys — 13-year-old son Avraham, and a cousin — were treated for minor injuries.
The family friend told the Post that Yosi Azan was in an induced coma at the hospital due to his burns and is still unaware of the scope of the tragedy.
The fire department late Monday released a statement saying fire marshals determined the blaze to be accidental, caused by an “unattended lit menorah.”
Neighbors said the family kept the menorah in a living room window throughout the eight-day holiday, also known as the Festival of Lights.
“So often, tragedy strikes at this time of year, and the holidays make it that much more difficult because our communities should be celebrating, not mourning,” fire department Commissioner Daniel Nigro said.
Both parents were born and raised in Israel. Aliza, known locally as Luza, was the daughter of Rabbi Albert Hamra, a leader of the Syrian community in Israel, according to the Post.
A crowd of mourners proved too large and distraught for a memorial ceremony to be held in Brooklyn on Monday night, and the bodies of the victims were taken directly to JFK Airport to be flown to Israel.
— amNewYork (@amNewYork) December 19, 2017
The Post reported that hundreds of bereaved members of the Orthodox community gathered outside Congregation Sheves Achim in East Flatbush on Monday evening to mourn Azan, 39, and her children at what was supposed to be a memorial service before they were flown to Israel for burial.
“Unable to enter the synagogue,” the Post reported, the hearses “then headed straight to JFK airport where a flight was preparing to fly them to Israel.”
City fire and police officials confirmed that a Hanukkah menorah on the first floor of the 2-1/2-story house sparked the blaze at around 2:20 a.m. Monday.
Fire Department officials said the house had a working smoke detector, which may have alerted the boys, who were on the first floor, to the fire.
In March 2015, three girls and four boys ages 5 to 16 from the Sassoon family died and their mother and another child were critically injured when a fire sparked by a malfunctioning Shabbat hotplate engulfed their home in Flatbush.
The Azans and Sassoons knew each other, according to Yeshiva World news, some of their children having studied together at the Ateret Torah Yeshiva.
Gavrial Sasson wrote an open letter of condolence to the Azan family, Yeshiva World reported.