24 March 2015

The Jewish Family's Tragedy

5 Nisan 5775

Yes, I almost wrote the Sassoon Family Tragedy, but I couldn't. It's simply not confined to them alone. The loss of seven children in one home in Brooklyn on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Nisan is a tragedy for the entire Jewish Family. I had no words to express the depth of my sadness, so I chose to leave it to others. But, just now, I read something which Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi shared on his facebook page and I knew that these were the words I was lacking.

Crushing Pain
by Sara Debbie Gutfreund

The Jewish people ache with the Sassoon family. We cannot speak; we have no words.

"Ima, why did you have to tell me what happened?" one of my daughters asked me when I told her about the horrific Sassoon tragedy.

"Because you're going to be saying Psalms in school for the mother and daughter who desperately need our prayers right now," I said.

"But Ima," my daughter looked down at the kitchen table as tears filled her eyes. "Ima,seven children? Just like that? They're all gone?" Her lips trembled, and I suddenly regretted saying anything at all. "It's too much, Ima. It's really too much."

And we both began to cry.

I thought about my daughter's words as I watched the Sassoon funeral in New York even though every second of it was too much for me to watch. If it's too much for me to watch, I thought, then how can the Sassoon family take even a second of the crushing pain that they must be feeling? How can they get through this?

And then the hearses came carrying the children's bodies. I heard the grandmother screaming out her grandchildren's names, like a voice holding all the pain that ever existed, rising towards the freezing, blank sky and shattering every Jewish heart. And I watched Rabbi Sassoon lean against the black hearse and sob. It was like a surreal nightmare that we wished would end. I wanted everyone to wake up and realize that it's just been a horrible mistake. All of it.

I wanted to weave through the crowded streets of Brooklyn where thousands of Jews were there to say good-bye, and I wanted to run up to the hearses and yank open the doors. 

Eliane! Wake up! Come back, you're only 16! It's all a mistake. It has to be a mistake. David! Please! Who leaves this world at the age of 12? Please, Hashem, no! Rivkah! Eleven is when you are just about to begin to live. It's too soon to say good-bye. Yehoshua, he's only ten! He needs more time. Moshe! Wake up! Eight years old… Sarah, you cannot leave us now at six years old. Hashem, please no! And Yaakov, you're only five. Your smile, your light is still needed here. Please, wake up! This is too much. How can all seven of you be gone? It must be a terrible nightmare, a mistake. Hashem, no!

But the hearses keep going, and no one wakes up. And that night, I can't sleep. I can't breathe. I can't handle the pain. It's too much. I say Psalms. I pray for the injured mother and daughter. But the words are so hard because it is just too much. It's too much for us, Hashem. The photos of the children’s angelic, beaming faces. The scope of the loss of these precious souls for Am Yisrael. The Jewish people are aching, trembling with this pain. We cannot speak; we have no words.

It is now, when we have no more tears, that we realize that we are not a divided nation. We share in each other's joy, and we hold each other in our grief. Without each other, we would not be able to go on. It is too much for any one to bear alone.

We need each other desperately now. And the Sassoon family needs us even more. They need our prayers. They need our help. And sometimes, when the pain is too much, our prayers don't need any words. Because God knows the language of a broken heart. He knows that when we can't sleep, can't breathe, can hardly speak about this ongoing loss that we are begging Him for comfort. That we are yearning for Him to heal. That we are crying for Him to bring us out of the darkness of a world where almost an entire family dies in one night. That we are banging on the hearses and screaming for the children to come back. Their children. The Jewish people's children. Our children. Hashem, no!

Please hold them. Please hold us. It is too much for us to go on without each other. It is too much for us to go on without You.

Please pray for the full recovery of Gila bas Francis and Tziporah bas Gila.
( aish)


  1. There are NO words! The pain is unbelievable for every Jew, how much moreso for their family. We pray for a Refuah Shleimah for mother and daughter.

    These children whom H' took on Rosh Chodesh Nissan are kedoshim, angels. May it be soon that they all return to their parents, together with the return of all the bnei Yisrael who are all on High, to their loved ones at Techiyat Hamaisim!.

    mirel m.

    1. These are the correct names:

    2. These are the correct names:

      This just in from NY:
      Rabbi Cherba said to daven for Gayle as
      Gilsom Gila Gayle bat Frances Tsiporah
      and her daughter is
      Tsiporah bat Gayle

  2. On parshas Vayikrah (parsha of karbonos)
    7 neshamas went to shemayim on Shabbos (7th day) in the month of Nissan (7th month from Rosh Hashanah) in the Shmittah 7th year. There are no coincidences ever. Hashem wants us to wake up.

    1. Thank you, BE! That's a connection I had not seen and it's very significant.