Holon, Israel – Deeply sedated, the Brooklyn man who risked his life to evacuate his family from a household inferno remains unaware that his wife and three of his six children were buried in Israel Wednesday morning.
45 year old Yossi Azan was badly burned in the menorah-sparked fire that took the lives of his wife Aliza and his children Moshe, Yitzchak and Henriette. His 42 year old brother Amir flew in from Israel on Tuesday and was seen sobbing outside Staten Island University Hospital where Azan and his children Shalit and Daniel remain hospitalized, as reported by The New York Post (http://nyp.st/2BMZz78).
A family friend told reporters that Azan is in “bad condition.”
Both 16 year old Shalit Azan and 15 year old Daniel Azan are recovering from burns, with Shalit sustaining a broken hip and Daniel suffering head injuries.
Azan told his two older children to jump from the roof to an overhang above the first floor of the house and when they hesitated, he pushed them out the window before going back inside to rescue more members of his family.
13 year old Avraham Azan and a visiting cousin who were sleeping on the first floor of the house were both awakened by the smoke detector and they screamed to try to wake up other members of the family before fleeing through a side door.
The two boys showed investigators where the menorah, estimated to be two feet wide, had been located, and said that the flames were still burning when they went to sleep.
Investigators believe that the menorah’s glass oil cups may have shattered from the heat, sparking the blaze which traveled quickly upwards to the second and third floors of the house.
Thousands gathered in Israel to escort Aliza Azan and her three children to their final resting place in Holon, the city where Aliza Azan grew up and where her father, Rabbi Avraham Hamra led the Syrian community for years.
Although the Holon cemetery is for residents of Israel, the country’s minister of religious services reportedly made an “irregular request” to the director general of Greater Tel Aviv’s burial society to allow the family to be buried there, which was granted.
Among those in attendance were Rabbi Avraham Yosef, chief rabbi of Holon, Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef, chief rabbi of Rishon L’Tzion, Aryeh Deri, minister of the interior, and Gavriel Sassoon, who lost seven children in a heartbreaking fire in Brooklyn almost three years ago.
Sassoon spoke tearfully at the funeral but was so overcome by emotion he was unable to complete his thoughts. Held on the final day of Chanukah, a time that is typically auspicious and joyous, the funeral was punctuated by the anguished sobs of mourners, with paramedics on hand to treat those who were physically overcome by grief.
The words of Aishes Chayil were uttered as the body of Aliza Azan was taken to her grave where she was buried together with her three-year-old daughter Henriette. Moshe and Yitzchak Azan were also interred in a single grave and were laid to rest next to their mother and sister.
According to Kikar HaShabat (http://bit.ly/2B5Rozc) one member of Aliza Azan’s family tearfully acknowledged that the family was accepting the tragedy with love, but called on the Jewish community to remember that it was baseless hatred that caused the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash.
“Aliza was completely filled with love for mankind and perhaps that is why she could no longer be in this world,” said the family member. “We ask this: what took place here shouldn’t be for nothing. We have to do something. We have to change. We have to bring about change and everyone should take something upon themselves as a merit to Aliza and her children.”