Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Passover apartment fire


A Hasidic Brooklyn community's Passover celebration turned tragic yesterday when three boys died in an apartment fire sparked by a stovetop burner left on since Friday for religious reasons, sources said.

"Did you see my sons?" an anguished Rachel Matyas shouted from a window of her smoke-filled apartment at 104 Ross St. in Williamsburg at around 6:30 a.m., according to Leah Rothchild, who lives in an adjacent building.

Matyas and her chef husband, Symah, the parents of 10 children, lost two sons, Shia, 17, and Yidel, 14, and the couple's 5-year-old grandson, Israel Falkowitz, in the blaze. All three died of smoke inhalation, the Medical Examiner's Office said.

Funeral services were held yesterday afternoon for Israel, whose father was described as a leader in the Satmar community.

Services were held for Shia and Yidel just after midnight today, along with a funeral procession along Bedford Avenue.

"[Sunday] night, they were singing and celebrating and made the Seder," said a relative of the Matyas family.

Strict religious practices on the Sabbath and holidays like Passover, which began Saturday at sundown, forbid Orthodox Jews from kindling or extinguishing a fire.

This is just one tragic reason why ancient religious practices must be modernized to take account of the modern world. Leaving a stove on for several days for whatever reason is just an invitation to disaster.

In the news:

Three Boys Die in Fire Caused by Stove Left on for Passover

Fire kills 3 B'klyn boys

Holiday fire was not the first

New York City fire kills three boys from same Orthodox Jewish family during Passover observances


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