In a diabolical week straight out of a horror movie, three catastrophes too unbearable to imagine brought their fatal encounters with flesh and blood to our doorstep, delivering grim reminders of our own mortality and uniting us in the sorrow of strangers who could be any one of us.
• Inconsolable Midwood dad Gabriel Sassoon echoed our thoughts as he wept and wailed, “There’s absolutely nothing to say!” about the deadly fire that killed seven of his children — Eliane, 16; Rivkah, 11; David, 12; Yeshua, 10; Moshe, 8; Sara, 6, and Yaakob, 5 — and left his wife Gayle and surviving daughter Siporah, 15, hospitalized with critical burns.
He called the deceased his “little angels,” and may he find comfort knowing that they are in a place of eternal radiance.
• Three days later, Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was flying from Barcelona to Dusseldorf when by all accounts he intentionally crashed his jet in the French Alps, crumbling it like a cookie and killing all 150 people on board, including Americans Yvonne Selke and her daughter Emily, 22, from Nokesville, Va.
• Two days later, around 25 people were injured and two others were killed when a building exploded mysteriously in a typically bustling section of the East Village. The excruciating agonies of the victims in their final moments hold their lives up as shining examples of courage in the face of unforeseen horror. The Sassoon children, who immigrated to Brooklyn from Israel two years ago, had just recorded a song renouncing the bloodshed in the Middle East and exulting the arrival of the Redemption, in a poignant foreknowledge of their doomed fate that tugs at the heart.
The world was also richer for having known the Selkes, both of them active in their church. Yvonne enjoyed a zest for life and the admiration of her co-workers at a government contracting firm, while former classmates remembered Emily as the girl everyone wanted to be around.
Calamity, tragedy, and disaster have stalked and claimed us since the beginning of our existence, but our practice with them has not made us perfect at weathering their awful aftermath.
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