The tragedy in Brooklyn: Seven children, aged 5 to 16, died; the mother and one daughter managed to escape and are hospitalized; the father was away from home and survived. The Sassoons, a family of ten, was reduced to three in one brief and incomprehensible catastrophic moment.
I was in the U.S. last Shabbat, and when I turned the TV on in the evening I saw the terrible news. The name Sassoon is a common Jewish Sephardic name so I did not immediately think about any connections. But the following day I got a Whatsapp message from a member of our small Jewish community in Kobe, and the connection was made.
The father of the family, Gabriel Sassoon, was born an raised in Kobe. His father, David, moved to Japan from Syria with his cousin before World War II. Although they led a secular lifestyle, they were among the founding members of our synagogue. A chair of honor at the Eastern Wall (physically western) of the synagogue still bears the family name. Gabriel himself graduated from the same international school that my daughter is now attending and is fluent in Japanese.
Our small community here is joining Jewish mourners around the world in praying that God comfort the surviving Sassoons among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.