Jerusalem’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar called on Jews living in New York's Flatbush neighborhood to strengthen their observance of Torah after a deadly house fire last month killed four members of the Azan family in the nearby Sheepshea Bay area.
After a number of rabbis from Flatbush consulted with Rabbi Amar over how the community should respond to the tragedy, Rabbi Amar said that the community should increase its Torah study and stringently follow the laws of modesty, in line with the introspective way Judaism deals with tragedy.
"I already wrote to members of the community that they should be particularly strong with regards to modesty, both in dress and in other customs," wrote Rabbi Amar. "Torah study should also be continued and strengthened in light of the many disasters that afflicted the members of the holy community in the United States, especially the terrible disaster that happened."
Rabbi Amar explained that tragedies "are a time to spur the public to strengthen Torah study and to follow the commandments" and suggested that community members begin studying the Zohar, a mystical Jewish kabbalistic text.
The rabbi's response was also signed by Rabbi Meir Mazuz, a prominent Sephardic-haredi rabbi.
"I agree with everything he [Rabbi Amar] said and may we not hear of any more tragedies," wrote Mazuz.
Aliza Azan, 39, and three of the family's children, Moshe, 11, Yitzchak, 7, and Henrietta, perished when a fire ripped through their Sheepshead Bay home last month. He husband and other childen were seriously injured. At least 10 people were injured in the fire, including three who suffered serious injuries, and five firefighters attempting to rescue people trapped inside the burning home.