By: Arel Levkovich  | 

Mourning a Tragedy and Lending a Helping Hand

On Saturday, March 21st, tragedy struck in Midwood, Brooklyn, as a terrible fire - stemming from a malfunction in a hot plate erupted overnight in the home of the Sassoon family. The fire took the lives of seven Sassoon children, while their mother, Mrs. Gayle Sassoon, and second-oldest sister, Sipporah Sassoon, were both able to escape through the glass of second-floor windows. They both remain in critical condition. Mr. Gabriel Sassoon was away from his family on a trip that Shabbat and could only eulogize his seven children that perished the next day. Thousands attended the funeral at Shomrei Hadas Chapels to pay their respects.

Within 24 hours of the tragedy, by March 22nd, the New York City Fire Department, along with the NY Red Cross, took action in order to prevent the danger of future home fires. Both organizations provided fire safety literature and signed up many for free installations of up to three smoke detectors. Ultimately, the Red Cross was able to secure 120 appointments. The FDNY and Red Cross volunteers then returned to the Midwood community on March 31st for the actual installations; a total of 227 alarms were installed.

Because of the positive outreach in Midwood in those 24 hours after the fire, the FDNY and NY Red Cross came together at five additional sites with large Jewish Orthodox populations, and on March 29th, signed up another 500 community members for free installations that will take place later this year. It should be noted that the NY Red Cross kicked off its own Fire Preparedness Campaign in January in order to reduce the number of fire deaths and injuries by 25 percent over the next five years.

Here on the Wilf Campus, the YU Red Cross Club was contacted by Ms. Amanda Crabbe, the Regional Manager of Youth Services from the NY Red Cross, to ask if the club could send over students to assist in the initial March 22nd tabling. While the drive was unable to coordinate with YU due to short notice, the YU Red Cross continues to work hard in hosting several events for members of the university. One of popular events that YU Red Cross Club hosts each semester is a dodgeball tournament to raise money for a specific project - in 2013, for example, the money went towards relief in the Philippines following an earthquake.

Every fall, there is also a letter writing campaign for students to send thank you cards to soldiers serving overseas. Additionally, Elias Atri, who runs the club along with Adam Kurnick, mentioned that in the spring, training and certification was even offered to its members in CPR, First Aid, and AED. Due to its success, the club received an Outstanding Campus Club Award from the NY Red Cross.

As students prepare for the summer, let us remember the seven Sassoon children who are no longer with us, and let us pray for the full recovery of Mrs. Gayle Sassoon and her surviving daughter.  Let us also give Mr. Gabriel Sassoon the strength he needs to move forward, and let us appreciate the efforts that have been made, and continue to be made, for those in need.