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They All Had Faces of Angels

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Gayle Sassoon with her children
Gayle Sassoon with her children

By Frank Rosario, Kevin Sheehan and Bruce Golding

He wept as he recited the names, saying they are all “angels” now.

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.

“They all had faces of angels. Hashem [God] knows how much I love them,” said a sobbing 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.

He called them a “sacrifice to the community.”

“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 early Saturday.

After the funeral, maternal grandmother Frances Jemal sobbed while touching the seven coffins, which were draped in dark cloth with Hebrew lettering, as they were wheeled out of the Shomrei Hadas Chapels in Borough Park.

Gabriel was supported by two fellow mourners as he walked in a daze past the 2,000 people who filled the streets around the funeral home.

A procession of SUVs carried the coffins to JFK Airport for a flight to Israel, where the kids were to be buried in Jerusalem’s Har HaMenuchot Cemetery, The Yeshiva World website reported.

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.

Mom Gayle Sassoon, 45, and her second-eldest child, Tziporah, 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 Tziporah 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.